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  • Eli Hunt

Cannabis One of Fastest Growing Employment Sectors in US—Restaurant and Retail Workers Take the Out

The Great Resignation- Employees Quit Restaurant word for cannabis work

Marking a 32 percent increase from last year, it is estimated that over 320,000 Americans currently work in cannabis in 2021, a number that places the sector above dentists, paramedics, and electrical engineers in terms of employment and makes it an industry ripe with growth and potential.

Running from Retail: Why Now?

Workers cite many different reasons for making the change. What is known is that the “Great Resignation” from retail was inspired in part by the pandemic and the associated pressures that fell on those in retail and hospitality spaces. Workers in 2020, it seems, became increasingly aware of the tremendous pressures involved in working in these industries, none of which were ameliorated by decent pay or benefits.

Cannabis, on the other hand, offers more flexibility and more potential for many of these workers. While the starting pay rates are on par with those in restaurants and retailers, the fact that cannabis is a rapidly growing industry offers more potential for growth.

In Virginia, there is considerable support for speeding up the timeline to adult-use sales, offering even further growth potential for new employees. Sales in the medical cannabis industry alone in Virginia are expected to almost triple between 2021 and 2022. According to current estimates, the medical cannabis industry in Virginia will reach an estimated 55 million dollars a year by 2024 when adult-use sales are scheduled to begin. All of this means more jobs and more opportunities for Virginians looking to transition away from retail and restaurant jobs.

Opportunities Abound in Virginia

This is all supported by research done by ZipRecruiter, one of the nation’s leading authorities on hiring trends. According to ZipRecruiter estimates, the average cannabis employee in Virginia makes $69,000 a year with salaries starting at around 30 grand a year and going as high as almost 80,000. This $50,000 gap in average pay in the industry, according to ZipRecruiter, is an indication of the many opportunities for advancement in the industry, including significant increase in pay based on location, skill level, and experience.

Workers in the retail space have far less wiggle room according to the company. What’s more, the average salary for a Virginian working in retail management is just around $39,000, placing the Virginia average well below the national average. And that’s only for management positions, which workers typically don’t reach for several years when working in retail.

Union activists are also looking to get in early and define the industry as worker-friendly from the get-go. These activists believe that the growth potential in the cannabis industry could make the industry a pipeline for those looking to move into the middle class, much like manufacturing did for many American workers in the 20th century. A report recently published by the Economic Policy Institute shows that unionization would be essential to ensuring that cannabis workers get the best opportunities as the industry continues to grow.

Defining a New Culture of Equity and Fairness

Virginia is also working to ensure that jobs and business opportunities in the Commonwealth are available to communities marginalized by the war on drugs. The state legislature built protections into the original legislation, including setting aside a certain number of adult-use retail licenses for Black Virginians. Virginians who have graduated from an HBCU, live in an area disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests, and who have experienced a marijuana arrest will get access to these licenses.

Cannabis employment is a complex issue in Virginia and in the DMV, in particular, given the strong presence of the federal government in the region. Cannabis use is still illegal at the federal level, making it difficult for some Virginians to navigate the intricacies of legalization in the state. Federal employees who live in Virginia, as well, are prohibited from participating in state-sanctioned medical marijuana use. In the long term, perhaps even some of these workers will make the transition. What is clear is that Virginia medical cannabis is here to stay and is a space rife with promise for those looking for jobs and opportunity in the Commonwealth.

Get Your VA Marijuana Card Now!

The medical marijuana industry is on the rise across the Commonwealth. Whether you are interested in getting a medical marijuana card for yourself or working in the space, there will be a lot of opportunity in the months and years to come.

Schedule an appointment with an online medical marijuana doctor today to start gaining access to safe, legal cannabis products and begin contributing to the growth of this vital Virginian industry. Medical marijuana dispensaries across Virginia are now operating and selling a diverse range of beneficial products.


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Virginia!



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