Marijuana Is Becoming Big Business
It’s sometimes easy to forget how far we have come in marijuana legislation, In 1995, not a single state had a law legalizing medical cannabis or recreational pot. Today, following the landslide November elections there are 28 states with legal medical cannabis laws and eight recreational weed states. Legal marijuana sales could soar from $6 billion today to $50 billion by 2026.
Public opinion toward marijuana has rapidly changed in the last 20 years. Gallup found that support for marijuana’s legalization is at a new all-time high of 60% in 2016 (up from 25% in the mid-1990s). An additional 84% of surveyed Americans would like to see medical cannabis legalized nationally, according to a CBS News poll in 2015. The more states are able to demonstrate that they can safely and effectively regulate their pot industry, the greater the likelihood that other states will legalize as well. Investment firm Cowen & Co. believes that legal marijuana sales could soar from $6 billion today to $50 billion by 2026. That’s a compound annual growth rate of nearly 24% over the next decade.
The marijuana industry currently employs about 150,000 people nationwide (CBS News). Dale Gieringer, a doctor working with California NORML, extrapolated the job-creating capacity of the weed industry and settled on a figure of 100,000 jobs if the drug were legalized nationally, He made his estimate in 1994. With recreational marijuana legalized in few states, and medical marijuana in 28 states we’re already 50% above Gieringer’s forecast with full legalization from a little over two decades ago.
According to analyst estimates, the marijuana job market could triple in the years to come, meaning 150,000 to 300,000 additional cannabis-related jobs could be filled in the near- and intermediate future. When you think of the marijuana industry you think of growing, processing, and budtending at the retail level. But job opportunities are growing rapidly in security, delivery services, regulation, web and software development, consulting, and marketing. In fact, Medical Marijuana 411’s State Medical Marijuana Consultant Certification has graduated almost 600 students in Washington state alone, jump-starting their career in the cannabis industry.
Problems In the Marijuana Industry
The marijuana industry does have issues that could potentially slow its growth. Cannabis remains federally illegal and faces many problems with banking, state to state retail and tax issues. If cannabis is rescheduled to schedule 2 and becomes legal to be prescribed nationally by physicians it would help a lot of issues, it would also place marijuana under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration.
If rescheduled, the FDA would have the power to control marketing and packaging of medical cannabis products, and it would likely be highly involved in the production and regulation of individual plants. More importantly, the FDA would have the authority to require marijuana businesses to run clinical trials to confirm the medical benefits of cannabis for certain ailments.In that scenario, the regulatory costs of legalization could soar, potentially crippling smaller businesses.