Cannabis campaigners hoping to persuade ANZ politicians of the economic benefits of recreational legalisation can point to a US jobs boom in the sector as the country emerges from recession.
Despite the economic downturn triggered by Covid-19 last year, the Washington Post reports the cannabis industry provided a safe haven for retail workers laid off as a result of the pandemic, with employment in the industry growing by 32%.
According to Leafly’s Jobs Report 2021, the industry added more than 77,000 jobs, with some 321,000 Americans now working in the legal cannabis sector, outnumbering the country’s dentists, paramedics and electrical engineers.
While most entry-level jobs are minimum wage, opportunities to progress and senior roles attracting six-figure salaries make it an attractive option for prospective employees.
However, workers’ rights groups warned the industry to establish protections to ensure it doesn’t go the way of the retail sector.
The Economic Policy Institute said: “Without proper structures and safeguards in place at the outset, cannabis could end up looking like many other US industries”, dominated by “strictly profit-maximising firms” with low wages and few workers’ rights.
Medicinal cannabis is now legal in 37 states, while 18 states and Washington DC have legalised recreational adult use. However, despite Democrat support for change, recreational use remains prohibited at the federal level.