Where's Weed

The Legal Cannabis Industry is Gaining Thousands of Former Retail and Dining Workers

Where's Weed

Published on Dec 5, 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about how people around the globe have lived their daily lives. The lockdowns, the social distance, the masks, and isolation were just the tip of the iceberg, however. The pandemic has also had a devastating impact on where many choose to work and how people see their jobs. 

For many, the prospect of going back to work in an office building after nearly a year and a half was enough to make them reconsider things. For some, it was the idea of working in a restaurant or other service industry job in the midst of a raging pandemic that put them over the top. For just as many, the stress and time away from the office were enough to make them reconsider how they wanted to spend their working lives. That's why so many left their jobs in the past year and a half.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a record 4 million people quit their jobs in April alone. Those are unprecedented numbers at any point in history, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic when having healthcare, being able to buy supplies,  and having the money to pay the rent is more important than it's ever been before. 

This mass exodus from the workforce has been dubbed "The Great Resignation," a clever name for the reshuffling of the American workforce that we're currently in the midst of. Interestingly enough, one of the industries that gained the most workers and benefited the most from this reconfiguring of the American workforce was the legal cannabis industry.  

This article is going to take a closer look at The Great Resignation and how it relates to the legal cannabis industry, breaking down how and why it's been impacted both positively and negatively, why people are opting to work in the cannabis industry, and how this shift could impact the future of the cannabis industry going forwards. 

The Present of Cannabis Industry Jobs

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Legal cannabis is coming, and it's coming fast. In the past two decades or so, cannabis has gone from a taboo topic fueled by shady dudes growing a few plants in their basement and selling it on the black market in dime bags on the corner to a legal, profitable, and reputable multi-billion dollar money-making juggernaut. 

The vast majority of Americans approve of legal weed and more than half the states in the union allow for some type of legal cannabis programs to happen within their state borders. So it only makes sense for an industry like that to be growing at massive proportions, right? 

That's absolutely correct. According to Cannabis Business Times, the legal cannabis industry now supports 321,000 workers in the United States, with 77,000-plus jobs created in 2020 - roughly a 32 percent increase across the 37 states and the District of Columbia with medical or adult-use markets. Just for some perspective, the U.S. cannabis industry now supports nearly as many jobs as there are firefighters in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

On top of the sheer number of jobs, the quality of the positions is something to consider as well. As jobs in the legal weed industry grow, so do the pay and benefits industry workers get. According to Vangst's 2020 Cannabis Industry Salary Guide, 83 percent of cannabis companies Vangst surveyed offer paid-time-off, 73 percent offer medical insurance, 63 percent offer dental insurance, 62 percent offer vision insurance, 28 percent offer equity or stock options, and 29 percent offer 401(k) plans.

With all of that in mind, is it any wonder why so many have shifted away from working long hours for low pay that's typical of the restaurant and retail industries, the two industries hit hardest by the Great Resignation? 

The Future for Cannabis Industry Jobs

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Last year alone, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans purchased $18.3 billion in cannabis products over the past calendar year, $7.6 billion more than the $10.7 billion in sales the previous year. On top of that, the federal government is gearing up to push through legislation that would legalize cannabis federally, allowing for traditional banks to invest in and work with cannabis brands and for them to go fully legal and mainstream nationwide in the future. 

Legal cannabis is, in no uncertain terms, inevitable. To keep up with the demand for legal cannabis, the cannabis industry is going to need to hire people. A lot of people. And as we showed above, those jobs are well paying and don't require the same amount of work that jobs in standard retail or restaurant settings provide.

Industry experts estimate that the legal cannabis industry in the U.S. alone could be worth as much as $30 billion by 2022, rising to nearly $43 billion by 2025. That's a lot of money to go around, and the workers are sure to be on the receiving end of that very large chunk of change. 

Making the switch over to the legal cannabis industry now, while it's still in its relative infancy, could be the best move that many make in their careers. The grass is always greener on the other side, in this case quite literally!   

Did you recently leave your job as part of the "Great Resignation"? Are you new to the cannabis industry? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

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