Employment in the Cannabis Industry Soars amid Economic Downspin

Soft Secrets
29 May 2020

The sector is holding strong despite global disruption.

As many industries and businesses have suffered heavily from the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, with people having lost precious jobsemployment in the cannabis industry seems to be doing better than ever. Millions of people have lost their jobs since the outbreak of COVID-19, some being forced to abandon careers they’ve been devoted to their entire lives. The grim economic situation has been by many compared to the Great Depression of the 1920s, but the cannabis industry seems to be doing well amid the colossal wave of job cuts elsewhere.  Cannabis companies nationwide that were financially steady and healthy prior to the pandemic, went on to actually hire additional workforce in response to the booming demand for cannabis products, reports suggest. The demand was observed as early as March 2020, when CNBC wrote: “Customers appear to be stocking up, and many stores are shifting to delivery. It’s also possible the industry is reaching new customers who, until now, have bought their pot illegally, but want to now take advantage of regulated product delivered to their doorstep.” By the month of April, weed dispensaries became “essential” businesses in most states, benefiting from curbside pickup. employment in the cannabis industry The initial surge of distressed shoppers stockpiling weed–afraid that they might be left for many days at home, isolated, without anything to puff, cook with, or medicate–eventually dissipated.  However, many shops reported that sales of cannabis products kept momentum afterward, with business doing well coast to coast. From California where marijuana is legal for years now to Florida which is pending to see a relaxation of measures on cannabis possessions, usage, and homegrowing by 2022.  In Florida alone, sales of weed for smoking were up for more than 50 percent compared with January. Companies such as Curaleaf, which produces and distributes cannabis nationwide and has a market cap of around $5 billion, reportedly observed a 300 percent increase in demand for medical cannabis.  Therefore, it’s no surprise that cannabis companies in several states said they were hiring thousands of workers despite the pandemic, according to Politico which reported on the high demand of cannabis employees earlier in May. 

Employment in the Cannabis Industry is a Good Signal

Since the majority of states allowed weed shops to stay open while many other retailers were enforced to shut down or reduce their capacity of work during the past couple of months, it’s easy to explain the surge of employment in the cannabis industry. If it could mean one thing, it’s things are not going to slow down for the industry in the near future.  The increase in hires follows the surge in demand for cannabis products nationwide. As new users sign up for either recreational or medical marijuana, companies are hiring new personnel in any area of the business to get work done.  employment in the cannabis industry “In most cases, these hiring plans were already in the works prior to the public health crisis, but the economic paralysis gripping much of the rest of the economy largely hasn’t derailed those plans,” writes Politico.  For instance, Green Leaf Medical, which cultivates medical cannabis in Maryland said their plans entailed employing new personnel of approx 300 for its cultivation and retail operations in both Maryland and Virginia. According to Politico, they are growing their workforce twice as large.  The Florida-based company Trulieve has added over 200 retail workers in Florida since the start of the pandemic. Illinois’ Cresco Labs is pushing similar numbers of new hires, making sure work is running smoothly at its dispensaries, based in a state where recreational marijuana became legal only on January 1, 2020.  Both bigger and smaller players in the industry have sought the opportunity of increased demands on cannabis products. AltMed Florida, which has been doing smaller-scale operations reportedly opened 10 new stores since mid-March, doubling its retail efforts. NFuzed, a Colorado-based seller of “affordable THC and CBD edibles” that taste like candy according to their website, has also made new hires since the Covid-19 outbreak began following a 50 percent jump in sales.  With new hires in the cannabis business left, right, and center, some cannabis companies, unfortunately, still had to reduce jobs in the recent period. MedMen is one of the major retailers that had to close several of its stores in Florida, apparently due to financial struggle. Other big names in the industry such as Acreage Holdings and Canopy Growth also had to release some of their stuff, reports suggest. 

What Does Other Analytics Suggest?

Legal cannabis sales topped $12 billion in 2019, an increase of 34% over 2018’s total of $9.1 billion, according to BDS Analytics which contributes to the cannabis industry with some of the finest research on market trends and analyses. BDS Analytics suggests that cannabis sales may top $30 billion annually until 2024, although this estimation has been made without taking into account the overall economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. employment in the cannabis industry When it comes to employment rates, some figures imply that the legal cannabis industry in the U.S. employed nearly 250,000 people last year, roughly a 15% jump from 2018.  The first quarter of 2020 is, for now, an indicator that cannabis sales numbers at the end of the year may outperform those of 2019 and that companies will hopefully continue looking for additional personnel to staff their sectors. However, there are also those that send warning signals.  “Many industry observers caution that there are ominous financial signs on the horizon for the cannabis industry. Even if it proves more recession-resilient than many businesses, the hollowing out of bank accounts across the country is likely to eventually curtail weed sales. In addition, the lack of access to banking means they can’t typically access loans if they experience a cash crunch,” writes Politico.  For some answers, we’ll have to wait for 2020 to play out. And while we can’t predict what happens in the future, there are a lot of reasons to remain optimistic. Global weed consumption has accelerated by 60 percent within the last 10 years, and almost 200 million are nowadays enjoying the benefits of pot-smoking worldwide, says a 2019 drug report issued by the UN. Where there’s a growing demand, it’s natural to think there will be efforts to maintain and boost the industry under any circumstances. Should you be looking for a job in the industry yourself, there’s plenty of career options to choose from. Growers, dispensaries, delivery services, trimmers, budtenders, inventors, marketers, online entrepreneurs, or investors–there’s room in the industry for everyone.
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