Oregon Economist Beau Whitney was asked by the state government to estimate the impact of the legalization of marijuana to the state’s economy. In an astounding report released today, Whitney pegs the national cannabis market at a level approaching that of the wine market and suggests there are more than 1,000 Oregon businesses involved in the legal cannabis industry.
Overall, Whitney estimates that there are 12,500 cannabis-touching jobs in Oregon that are producing $315 million in wages for workers, leading to over $1.2 billion in economic activity in the state.
• As of February 21, 2017, there are 917 OLCC licensed cannabis businesses and an additional 1,225 applications for a cannabis business. 2,142 in total. The Oregon Employment Department lists 776 cannabis businesses in Oregon
• There are approximately 12,500 jobs associated with the cannabis industry in Oregon. These are jobs that directly touch cannabis and are not jobs associated with auxiliary businesses such as security, regulatory, accounting, consulting, real estate, etc. This is a very conservative estimate and these numbers are expected to increase once the more detailed analysis is completed
• At an average wage of $12.13/hour, the total annual wages associated with these jobs are $315 million. With a multiplier of 4, this implies that there is $1.2 billion in economic activity related to these wages
Whitney said the report does not extend into the supply chain for ”shovels or picks,” meaning lights, greenhouses, insurance, real estate, accounting, security, etc.
If the Trump Administration decides it needs to begin enforcing the Controlled Substances Act in the legal marijuana states, the resulting economic downturn and increased unemployment would be a black mark on Trump’s pledge to help his base by bringing back jobs. That consideration may be the best argument against predictions of a renewed crackdown on recreational pot.
However, the Trump Administration has already walked back and even reversed some of the candidate’s promises, from “drain the swamp” to “lock her up,” that were cornerstones of his campaign. Who can guarantee he won’t apply the same honor to his promise to respect states’ rights to set marijuana policy?
Regardless, these latest figures add to the figures we received in 2015 from Colorado showing 18,000 new jobs and $1.4 billion in economic activity. Both parties are eager to create jobs and revive their states’ economies in the face of globalization and automation that have devastated the working class. When will their leaders come to embrace what seems to be the ownly growth industry left in the United States?