top of page

Legalized Cannabis = High(er) Employment

With the possibility of adding nearly 300,000 jobs by the year 2020, the impact of legalized cannabis to employment is high. The entire industry is smoking, with the increase in employment fueled by an expected increase in sales and market growth over the next three years.

The info comes from a 2017 annual cannabis industry annual report from New Frontier Data with Forbes highlighting some of the notable numbers throughout the legal Marijuana market.

Legal Marijuana Market by the Numbers

  • $7.2 billion: Legal cannabis market worth in 2016

  • 17 percent: Expected annual growth rate of market through 2020

  • $8.6 billion: Predicted increase in medical marijuana sales over four-year period, jumping from $4.7 billion in 2016 to $13.3 billion in 2020

  • $9 billion: Predicted increase in recreational marijuana sales over same period, escalating from $2.6 billion to $11.2 billion

Another notable fact is that the predictions are based on markets in states that have already passed legal initiatives, and doesn't include any additional states that may pass legislation between now and 2020, but haven't yet. Legalized medical marijuana already has some form of approval in 28 states, while eight states (as well as Washington D.C.) have implemented legalized recreational marijuana laws; a change in these numbers could positively impact the predicted growth, perhaps dramatically if any additional (but currently uncounted) future markets include higher population states.

Why the Rapid Boost?

While it would be easy, and perhaps lucrative, for industry insiders to say the increase in sales, market growth and jobs is directly related to an increase in demand, that’s simply not the case. The Marijuana Policy Group (MPG) attributes the economic and employment growth in Colorado to an elimination of the black market for cannabis, as more and more consumers are turning toward state-licensed suppliers. The same is likely to be happening across the rest of the nation. MPG also – logically - expects the vast majority of cannabis in cannabis-legal states will be supplied by licensed, regulated sellers by 2020. Once the saturation point hits, marijuana market growth is likely to slow down to match other industries, with growth in the cannabis market more typically aligned with growth in population.

Help Wanted

In the meantime, jobs in the legalized cannabis industry are exploding across the board. Positions in the legal marijuana industry range from the $12-per-hour bud trimmers to six figure chemists/concentrate makers and master growers. Retail positions pose additional opportunities, selling all manner of marijuana products – edible, smokeable, ointments, even pain patches - to customers. Finding the ideal venue that meet space and facility requirements is another must for marijuana grow operations, making marijuana-focused real estate agents another in-demand position. And that’s without mentioning the slew of cannabis-specific technologists, scientists, marketers, consultants, accountants and sales people - jobs that didn’t exist just a few years back continue to crop up as legalization continues to spread.

And such jobs have been in demand from the get-go: attendance at the inaugural marijuana-industry job fair in Colorado in 2014 was estimated to be as high as 1,200, with job-hunters flocking from as far away as New Mexico and California to secure a position.

As more states hopped on board the legal marijuana movement, relocating out of state is no longer a requirement for many people interested in securing a job in an industry expected to be rife with them over the next several years.


Dan Ogden is a 20+ year veteran of the executive search industry, having covered operations, regulatory and consulting verticals within capital markets as well as data science, data analytics and, more recently, the cannabis industry within search firm and internal corporate HR leadership roles. Dan is Principal of the practice at Delta 9, the Western Hemisphere's' only dedicated cannabis industry executive search firm. To find out how Delta 9's proprietary, trademarked end-to-end recruiting methodology can help you find the key executives to make your company thrive and grow in the cannabis industry, shoot us an email, or give us a ring at 212.390.8190​.


bottom of page