Yo, what’s good? I’m Dan and I gotta tell you, it’s getting harder and harder to find work in the weed industry out here in Colorado. You probably seen those headlines about how sales of Mary Jane are dropping in the Centennial State. Well, turns out it’s not just sales that are taking a hit, but jobs too. According to a recent report, the cannabis workforce in Colorado has fallen by a whopping 28 percent!
Now, I know this trend ain’t just happening in Colorado. Other states across the country are seeing it too, but Colorado seems to be getting hit the hardest. Between February 2022 and February of this year, nearly 10,500 weed-related jobs were cut in the state. That means there’s only 27,856 workers left in the industry. Compare that to other states like California with 85,593 weed workers or Michigan with 35,405.
I mean, it’s not really a surprise that California has more workers than Colorado because it’s a bigger state and all. But compared to a state like Florida, which only has medicinal marijuana and fewer job opportunities, this is a shocker.
The reason for this decline in employment is due to the drop in wholesale prices of weed. Prices are down 61 percent compared to last year. Truman Bradley, executive director of Marijuana Industry Group, said he ain’t surprised by these job cuts since the industry has been going through a 20-month downturn with no end in sight. Recreational sales are down over 20% and medical sales are down over 45% this year.
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the state recorded $129.4 million in its first month of sales. That’s down 15% from January 2022 and more than 30% down from January 2021. This loss in sales is affecting the entire industry: accountants, software providers, and other business services are all cutting staff. Not to mention, state and tax revenues are also declining.
“The economic impact of the Colorado cannabis industry is real, and unfortunately, we’re seeing that a contraction also has ripple effects,” Bradley noted.
This decline in jobs is caused by various factors like legalization, economic inflation, and COVID-19. While some economic forecasts are optimistic about the future of weed in Colorado, it’s still a tough time for the industry. The Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting predicts marijuana tax revenue will grow 16% in 2024.
But let’s face it, COVID changed a lot of things in the weed industry and other industries too. “After a big shock like that, it’s hard to know what the world would’ve been like without that shock,” Bradley said. “We went through the best year we’ve ever had, immediately followed by a downturn. It’s not just that other states have legalized. We’re also dealing with high inflation that we haven’t seen since cannabis has been legal.”
So what’s the next move for Colorado? Bradley believes there are “long-term concerns” with the current 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana. Colorado is one of three states that charges an excise tax on wholesale cannabis transfers. Voters approved this decision when they initially legalized weed in 2012.
“When Colorado voted for the various tax plans in place now, in some cases, we were the only legal marketplace to buy cannabis for almost one thousand miles,” Bradley said. “That’s not the case anymore, so decade number two needs to look different than decade number one if the Colorado cannabis industry is going to stick around.”
Overall, it’s a tough and uncertain time for the weed industry in Colorado. Keep your eyes peeled for any new developments!