Being an entirely new industry can come with growing pains, and not all business ventures within a new market will succeed. However, the cannabis industry has entered a new era of growth and is seeing incredible gains across the country. Not only has new legislation passed, allowing for legal cannabis sales in more states, but the sales of cannabis have far surpassed experts’ predictions. This growth is excellent news for those invested in cannabusiness and those looking to take on an exciting new career in this expanding market.
As a controlled substance, cannabis is restricted in many parts of the country. Due to its Schedule 1 classification, it is still not accepted by some Americans as a medicinal and recreational product. Public opinion, however, is changing; nearly 60% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis. This shift in perception can be seen in the most recent elections held in November of 2020, where five states passed legislation around the legal medical and recreational sale of cannabis.
All five states that had cannabis legislation on the ballot this November passed the measures with overwhelming support. Recreational cannabis is now legal in Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey for adults over 21. Medical cannabis measures were passed in Mississippi, and in a historic vote, South Dakota passed legislation allowing the legal sale of both medical and recreational cannabis on the same ballot.
However, there are still some hurdles for the cannabis industry within this country. As mentioned, it is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance and illegal on the federal level. Congress planned to vote on the MORE Act in September; however, the vote was pushed to December. If passed, the act would legalize cannabis across the entire country and allow states to regulate its sale. There is also work to be done within cannabis justice, as seen in the New Jersey legislation, which did nothing to address social equity and perpetuates an unjust status quo.
It should come as no surprise to hear that the cannabis industry is doing incredibly well. Even during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, legal sales of medical and recreational cannabis are still high. There was a massive spike in March when most states issued stay at home orders, and even though a dip followed, sales are going strong. Legal cannabis sales, both medical and recreational, stabilized after that initial spike, 40% higher on average than where they were in 2019, a very considerable increase.
The cannabis market is also outpacing the trajectory of sales calculated by economic experts. In 2018 it was projected that total retail sales of cannabis would reach $14.9 billion in the year 2020. As of September 2020, the total sales in the U.S. are now predicted to reach $19.7 billion by the end of the year. This surpasses even the 2019 prediction of $17 billion. The current sales trajectory is very reassuring to those invested in this industry. It has some wondering if it could even surpass the most recent prediction of reaching $37 billion in legal sales by 2024.
With the territorial and sales growth of legal cannabis in the U.S. comes jobs growth as well. In 2019, an admittedly down for the cannabis industry, there were 243,700 full-time-equivalent jobs in legal cannabis. This is up from around 211,000 in 2019, nearly a 15% increase in the workforce. It’s possible that there could be 300,000 full-time positions in legal cannabis by the end of 2020. This year has seen a great deal of growth in legal cannabis sales and the industry’s geographical footprint, creating demand for talent ready to take on this new market.
With five new states passing legislation on medical and recreational cannabis sales, that creates even more opportunities for job seekers across the country. For those wondering what the job market might look like in a newly legal state, Massachusetts added a total of 10,226 jobs in its first year after passing adult-use laws. Illinois, one of the more recent states to pass recreational use legislation, has over 9,176 jobs in its first year and over $470 million in sales. States with cannabis laws being passed can expect to see an uptick in jobs once the bills go into effect. Many will happen as soon as January 1, 2021.
Now is a great time to consider a switch to a career in cannabis, especially if you live in a state where legislation has expanded your opportunities. Companies in these states have already started hiring for positions they expect to need in the new year, and states where they are seeing the effect of the uptick in sales, are also expanding their teams. If you’re interested in starting a career in cannabis or want to see what’s out there, consider using a cannabis-specific recruiting agency. They will be able to help you navigate the new and unknown waters of legal cannabis and place you in a position suited for your experience and career goals.
If you’re interested in making a move to a career in cannabis, Growing Talent is here to help. With more than 25 years in the recruitment space for new verticals, Growing Talent is well equipped to help you navigate this budding industry. We’ll connect you to a network of top minds in cannabis today and help you find your perfect fit within the world of cannabis.