Where the green is: Cannabis jobs

By Aimee Picchi

/ MoneyWatch

Here's some good news about the labor market: The cannabis industry is creating jobs at a rapid pace, a new study from employment site Glassdoor finds.

Legal pot has grown from a fringe business into a rapidly expanding industry in need of workers, prompting Glassdoor to examine hiring trends for companies like Green Thumb Industries and Surterra Wellness.

As of December, the industry had 1,512 openings in the U.S., Glassdoor found. Many of those jobs are in locations where cannabis is legal, such as California and Colorado, but one surprising finding is that the jobs span the gamut of skills, from retail salespeople to accountants.

Lobbying efforts grow in Washington as more states legalize marijuana

"We know that cannabis is a hot topic, and we were curious if it was reflected in our jobs data," said Glassdoor economist Daniel Zhao, the study's author. "It's a really strong indicator of employer confidence because they're really only going to make investments in hiring if they think they think it's going to grow."

The median base salary was surprising, partly because smaller businesses with passionate followings don't always offer competitive pay, Zhao added. "For people who want to join the industry, they don't need to sacrifice pay," he said.

The cities with the highest concentration of jobs are San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver, with 13 percent, 12 percent and 7 percent of all cannabis jobs, respectively.

The most frequently advertised position is "brand ambassador," with a 5 percent share of all openings in the cannabis industry, Glassdoor found. This job involves promoting cannabis products to stores, customers and patients. Sales associates and store managers are the second- and third-most in demand.

Even though the top jobs are related to retail, the majority of openings — at 53 percent — are for professional workers such as marketers, lab technicians, accountants and tax experts, the study found. Even though cannabis is legal in 33 states and Washington, D.C., it remains illegal at the federal level.

"As these employers need to handle complex set of taxes and legal issues," Chao noted, "they need to hire accountants and lawyers."

First published on January 30, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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