The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has created a slew of new legitimate jobs ranging from retail clerk to lab technicians. This explosion of new jobs is highlighted by the recreational marijuana job fair that recently took place in Denver.
This is a good time to draw attention to one of the oft overlooked long-term benefits of legalization. Obviously, eliminating a black market and replacing it with a legal market creates many legal jobs, and unlike in the black market, these employees tend to pay all their taxes. But legalization also improves the long-term financial prospects for people involved in the marijuana trade.
If someone is part of a black market marijuana operation they run the risk of being convicted as a felon which can dramatically hurt their chances of getting an education or a job. Even if a person doesn’t get caught by the police, employment in an illegal business means they aren’t building a legitimate résumé or viable references. It is not like someone is going to put “illegal drug dealer for past three years” on their résumé or list their criminal supplier as a reference to demonstrate their inventory skills. This causes some people to officially appear unemployed or underemployed and it makes it much more difficult for these individuals to find legitimate work. The long-term unemployed are dramatically less likely to be called back for a prospective job interview.
On the other hand, the people employed in the legal marijuana industry that is going to replace the black market are improving their résumés and building legitimate professional contacts. This is a benefit we will see for decades in lifetime earnings.
People are going to be involved in the production and sale of marijuana, whether it is legal or not. If it’s legal at least the people involved are going to be improving their long-term legitimate employment prospects instead of making them worse.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy
Photo by City Year under creative commons license