Recreational Marijuana Would Create More Than 100,000 Jobs in Florida, Study Says

The cannabis industry's success will depend on the state's willingness to legalize recreational use.EXPAND
The cannabis industry's success will depend on the state's willingness to legalize recreational use.
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

The number of jobs related to hemp, cannabis, and marijuana could increase more than sevenfold in Florida by 2025 — that is, if recreational marijuana gains approval in the November 2020 election.

The prediction comes from a new study on the cannabis industry conducted by New Frontier Data.

"Assuming full federal legalization, New Frontier Data estimates cannabis jobs could reach 128,587 by 2025," says John Kagia, chief knowledge officer at the D.C.-based research group. That's up dramatically from the state's current number of cannabis jobs, which Kagia says is at 16,792.

Florida is also predicted to snag a 12 percent share of the nation's $29.7 billion legal market by 2025. As of last year, the survey says, Florida had an estimated 2.5 million cannabis consumers, defined as legal adults who reported using a cannabis product at least once in the past year.

New Frontier Data incorporated figures from government entities, retail sales from cannabis companies, and statistics from academic and medical institutions to make its predictions. The group also conducted a survey of 3,138 people in October 2018 to gauge their usage habits.

Kagia says the jobs coming out of the industry vary in skill levels and types of work.

"[T]he types of jobs have actually benefited a wide range of groups of workers: lower-skilled labor roles such as trimmers or budtenders, [plus] higher-skilled workers like extraction tech, chemists, and other manufacturers dealing with edibles," he says.

David Hasenauer, a cannabis policy expert based in Fort Lauderdale, says the industry's success will depend on the state's willingness to legalize recreational use. If it's approved, the sky's the limit.

"All in all, Florida cannabis consumer growth is positively correlated with the industry's growth and will only be tempered by the state's Legislature," says Hasenauer, with the caveat that he doesn't anticipate that happening anytime soon.

Florida's cannabis industry is already booming. As of August, the state had about 270,000 patients registered with a medical marijuana card, according to the study.

Dori Stibolt, a West Palm Beach attorney specializing in employment law, began following the cannabis industry after representing employees who had failed drug tests after using CBD products. She says Florida's unique population, including senior citizens and visitors from states where marijuana is legal, means a relatively large number of cannabis users are looking to buy related products.

"It's not even close to meeting its full potential, and a lot of that is because at the federal level it's still considered a Class 5 drug," she says.

Stibolt agrees recreational use probably won't pass in 2020. She expects fits and starts as voters warm up to the idea.

"It may just take another round for that to get passed," she predicts.

In the meantime, Stibolt and Kagia compare the growth of the cannabis industry to that of the dot-com boom, which saw a wide range of jobs quickly flood the market.

"I think it will be declassified, or the classification will change, and that will really open the floodgates," Stibolt says. "People are still really concerned about being in this business because of the federal restrictions."

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.