The fact that the cannabis industry is on the rise can be clearly seen by observing the constant and sustained growth that it’s experiencing; among other factors, this is thanks to the markets opening, increasingly less-restrictive policies and the increase in demand. What’s certain, of course, is that this growth is expected to boost employment significantly within the sector.
According to a 2021 analysis carried out by MJBizFactbook, between 340,000 and 415,000 workers will have been employed by the end of 2021, a number that will increase to almost 600,000 jobs within four years. These figures refer to workers directly employed by cannabis companies - employees in charge of cultivation, processing, technicians, researchers, etc. Those who work for companies that support this industry, such as consultants and lawyers, will also increase in number. Due to requirements demanded by almost all states for the commercialisation of products containing marijuana, most of the positions will be included within what is known as the “retail sector”. It’s important to bear in mind that owing to the product’s particular characteristics, a considerable proportion of the jobs that workers in this industry occupy are on a seasonal or part-time basis; consequently, two part-time workers would count as one full-time worker. Despite everything, employment in the cannabis industry in 2020 surpassed that of other industries, some as significant as web development; curiously, employment in the cannabis industry also turned out to be somewhat higher than, for example, in the health sector (a sector in high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic). In fact, the pandemic didn’t cause a decline in the marijuana market as it did in other fields. Although a number of areas were affected, such as those in which a significant proportion of sales depends on tourism, many others saw their volume increase compared to previous years.
In Canada, for example, the cannabis industry grew by 50% during the pandemic, with more than a considerable difference in comparison with the agriculture, fishing and hunting industry, which increased by 11%. During the first year after its legalisation, sales were close to 1,200 million Canadian dollars, and job opportunities in this sector had tripled during the first three months.
Thus, it’s expected that in addition to the opening markets, the long-awaited end of the pandemic (as well as global changes with issues relating to the legalisation of marijuana and products derived from it for both medicinal / therapeutic and recreational use) will consolidate this growing trend, which has been constant and sustained of late.
In the US, retail sales of medicinal and recreational cannabis reached $12 billion in 2019 and are expected to rise to $30 billion by 2023. In the short term, medical sales as well as recreational sales are expected to increase; nevertheless, by all accounts, sales of cannabis for medicinal use will decline slightly in the long term. Currently, more than 320,000 jobs in the US lie essentially in the legal cannabis industry, and exports and products derived from this exceeded one and a half billion dollars in 2020. Globally, sales of industrial hemp and derived products exceeded eight billion, and it’s estimated that they’ll be above 65 billion by 2026. The sector demands legal certainty for exports since import requirements and changes in regulation pose a problem that limits export opportunities to a growing market such as the intra-European one.