Over the past week, the Democrat vs. Republican divide on cannabis appeared to weaken as a prominent Republican made an announcement signaling a level of support for medical and legal adult-use of cannabis.
Last Wednesday, former House Speaker John Boehner announced that he had joined the board of a national cannabis business, and shared that his views on cannabis have evolved over the years to support legal use of medical marijuana. The announcement by was 180 degree turn from a few years ago when Boehner took a hardline stance against legalization. While some say Boehner’s change of heart is merely a reflection of his opportunity to cash-in on a growing industry, others believe that his evolved stance reflects the changing attitudes of Americans and marijuana.
Aside from the various and significant medical benefits of cannabis, one of the direct benefits of legalizing marijuana use is the opportunity to create good paying jobs for people, especially in rural areas.
In a review of Colorado’s legal cannabis industry by New Frontier Data, a cannabis research firm, over 18,000 new jobs were created in the first three years of legalized use. Of those, nearly 13,000 were full-time positions directly involved in the cannabis sector, and the remaining were created in auxiliary services such accountants, construction, legal, real estate, and other business services.
In California, two studies from the University of Pacific found that the potential for strong economic output and job creation in Sacramento and rural Calaveras County are significant. In their analysis, both Sacramento and Calaveras County were expected to create several thousand new jobs for two regions that have seen relatively stagnant job growth over the last decade. While these reports focused on two specific areas in California, their general assumptions could be applied to many of the rural counties and cities across the state.
Moving forward, as city councils and boards of supervisors debate whether or not to allow cannabis businesses in their jurisdiction, the positive economic impact and job creation potential has to be a part of the discussion.