Thus far, it’s been difficult to gauge the potential economic impact of marijuana legalization. Legal marijuana is still very new, it’s only available in select states, and the industry is still growing pretty slowly for now. But in 2018 we’re beginning to see some sales numbers emerge, and that’s gradually giving us a clearer picture of how legal marijuana is changing the American economic landscape.
For example, Denver Westword called attention to the latest marijuana sales numbers out of Colorado. In that state, where pot has been legal since 2014, the cannabis industry brought in over $1.5 billion in revenue in 2017. Since recreational stores opened four years ago, sales now total almost $4.5 billion. The natural follow-up question, then, is how these raw numbers might affect the state’s economy at large.
Talent Economy has speculated that we may soon see a ripple effect as the pot industry grows. The economic impact of marijuana legalization will be felt in many other areas—as marijuana businesses grow in scope, they’ll contribute to the growth of other businesses in their orbit.
“The economic boost that’s provided by the marijuana industry is really significant when it comes to related industries,” said Morgan Fox, senior communications manager at Marijuana Policy Project.
Fox elaborated that with a new retail industry comes newfound demand for everything from cash registers to web designers to electricians and security personnel.
Perhaps the most significant economic impact of marijuana legalization will come in the area of staffing. As a new industry emerges, a wide range of new job opportunities are sure to open up. Talent Economy highlighted a few of the key roles including growers, cultivation supervisors, dispensary managers, dispensary agents, lab workers, marketers and more. Because this is a new marketplace, very few people have relevant experience on their resumes already, which means all sorts of new people can enter the workforce for the first time.
It remains to be seen whether momentum for the economic impact of marijuana legalization will continue building. As of right now, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana, but only eight (plus Washington, D.C.) have approved recreational sales. There will need to be more movement on the legislative front before we can be assured this economic progress will push forward.