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Why Won’t the Feds Count Cannabis Jobs?

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Why Won’t the Feds Count Cannabis Jobs?

By ROB REUTEMAN | Leafly.com

Editor’s Note: This week Leafly publishes “Cannabis Jobs Count,” a special series on jobs in the legal cannabis economy. The series begins today with Rob Reuteman’s report on cannabis employment data and why it’s so hard to find. We continue tomorrow with a state-by-state count of cannabis jobs

Cannabis culture has moved in a few short years from an illicit black market to a legal industry in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Earlier this year the data analysis firm New Frontier pronounced recreational cannabis the fastest-growing industry sector in the United States, outpacing electric vehicles, LED bulbs, solar installations and big data.

Legal cannabis sales reached nearly $7 billion in 2016, up from more than $5 billion last year. Many expect sales in excess of $20 billion by 2020, even without federal legalization.

But like any young industry, there’s much we don’t know. For instance, we have no solid government data on the number of people employed in the legal cannabis sector. We know these people and their jobs exist. We see them growing cannabis, producing oils and edibles, selling at retail shops. But beyond anecdotal evidence, and despite the emergence of several data analytics firms devoted to the industry, we have little information on their wages, benefits and working conditions.

“There are no reliable figures for the number of people employed nationally in the legal marijuana industry,” says Morgan Fox, communications manager for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project.

He’s right. Last year Marijuana Business Daily (MJ Biz) estimated that somewhere between 21,000 and 33,000 U.S. companies get some or all of their revenue from legal cannabis. That includes growers, retailers, infused-product manufacturers, and testing labs, of course, but it also takes into account consultants, technology providers, security firms, hydroponics and other businesses. For those ancillary jobs, MJ Biz uses a common multiplier effect that assumes each of the 7,000 to 11,000 companies directly involved with the cannabis plant will generate revenue for at least three other companies.

Continue reading this article at Leafly.com

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