hummingbird feeding on marijuana flower

Not every worker with a cannajob is a mammal. Photo courtesy of

Unassailable data from the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division which registers support workers and the US Census suggests there are 324,440 potential cannajobs possible in the US without factoring in demand for recreational or industrial pot!

What if I told you that I could explain how I arrived at the intriguing figure of 324,440 pot-ential cannajobs in two quick paragraphs, using 4th grade math, and guaranteed that anyone who balances a checkbook can follow along?

Here you go:

313,914,040 [US population] ÷ 5,187,582 [Colorado population] = 60.512 [how many times bigger the US population is than the Colorado population]

5,345 [the amount of support workers registered by the Colorado MMJ industry] × 60.512 [how many times bigger the US population is than the Colorado population] = 324,440 [the amount of “cannajobs” required to serve the MMJ industry if it operated across the entire country]

That didn’t take Sir Isaac Newton, did it?

It’s true the above example is an oversimplication; it’s presented for demonstration purposes only. However, as we’ll see, 324,400 is a conservative estimate. The actual number is dependent on several key variables we’ll introduce and play around with — yes I said “play around with,” not “bore you to death with.”

What you can expect from Cannajobs 2013

Cannajobs 2013 aims to forecast believable ballpark figures for how many cannajobs would be possible in the US if cannabis commerce flowed freely; sorry, there’s no such thing as a dead-accurate total anytime The World’s Most Controversial Substance is involved.

We’ll cannalyze three different scenarios:

  1. The amount of cannajobs that would be potentially available in the MMJ industry alone if it took root in every state of the nation.
  2. The amount of cannajobs that would be potentially available if recreational marijuana was fully legal in every state or federal prohibition was repealed.
  3. The amount of cannajobs that would be potentially available if conditions presented in #2 materialize and industrial-scale hemp production is added to the mix.

The numbers we’ll be juggling are a snapshot of reliable data available on 1/21/2013 from:

  • The Colorado Department of Revenue’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division [DOR/MMED]
  • The US Census
  • The Colorado Municipal League
  • Colorado Counties, Inc.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management

Why Colorado statistics are golden

MMED’s statistics are golden because they’re the first data set poteconomists can use to extrapolate the potential amount of cannajobs — in Colorado, other states, or the entire nation — that’s based on actual numbers and a sufficient sample size.


  1. The Colorado DOR/MMED is all about control. You may or may not know that MMED watches over every phase of pot transactions in the Rocky Mountain Highlands “from seed to sale.” It authored House Bill 1284, which mandates that anyone who wants to work in the state’s MMJ industry must obtain a support license good for one year from the time of issuance. There is presently a six-month wait to get one — hinting that the present number of registered workers could be less than the industry requires. 
  2. Other states don’t track MMJ workers, or their programs are just starting out. The biggest MMJ state California, is also the most disorganized. Other states’ programs are too new, with too few dispensaries, medible manufacturers, or cultivation facilities reporting. Or they [Arizona, for instance] typically approach MMJ statistics from the angle of how well they’re doing at mitigating illnesses for sick people, not how well the state’s doing at creating cannajobs, cannatax, or cannabiz.
  3. Comparatively favorable conditions. Colorado’s relatively friendly climate simulates what cannalife would look like in 49 others states if the if the choke hold was taken off cannabis commerce. Denver County in particular has been a virtual test market for launching a quasi-legal product, “medical marijuana” — that has proven wildly successful. Literally thousands of cannajobs have been incubated. The state is a happy hunting ground for potentrepreneurs who are dreaming up new businesses requiring more cannajobs as we speak. In a state where MMJ in banned by two-thirds of its counties (that’s why I used the adjective “relatively” before friendly), 5,345 workers is a compelling figure.
  4. Colorado offers a representative sampling of Americans. It is well known and accepted that Colorado is an attractive destination for people who have moved there from all over the country. Plenty of liberals have moved into the state, as have plenty of conservatives. New arrivals are rich and poor, old and young, male and female. Put it all together and you have a melting pot which reflects the usage habits of the country as a whole. According to the US Census, in 2012 Colorado experienced a population increase almost double the national average, 3.1% compared to 1.7%.
  5. Colorado’s US Attorney, John F. Walsh III, doesn’t need career-making cases. While Mr. Walsh has ordered some dispensaries closed, overall he’s been way more even-handed in his dealings with the MMJ industry than, say, his California counterparts. In the overall scheme of things, that’s as favorable as it gets in the grey zone between federal and state law.
  6. Coloradoans are more active and may have less need for MMJ. Colorado ranks 11th in percentage of meeting the government’s minimum recommended amount of physical activity according to The Center for Disease Control [CDC]. The state also has the lowest obesity rate in the country, meaning there are less obesity-related diseases such as Type II diabetes and hypertension (the number cause of  heart disease), to mitigate with MMJ. That contributes to a conservative estimate.

MMED stats

According to MMED’s Julie Postlewait, as of 12/31/2012:

Key personnel = 1,206. Management — including owners, master growers, entrepreneurs, investors, and so on.

Support personnel = 3,939. Workers — including budtenders, cultivators, activated brownie bakers, trimmers, and so on.

Total = 5,345

Key variables

  1. Turnover rate: how many of the 5,345 licensed workers are actually working at any given time?
  2. If x amount of cannajobs are possible within the heavily restricted MMJ industry, how many more will be needed with recreational marijuana allowed or with prohibition repealed? Is it twice as many? Six times as many? Ten times as many?
  3. Will industrial hemp production really take off? If the industry gains traction, how many jobs will this segment demand?
  4. How much Colorado marijuana theoretically sold for medicinal purposes is actually used for recreational purposes?
  5. According to The Society for Human Resource Management, around 50% of US companies drug test their employees — meaning those employees consume less marijuana as a result. To what extent does drug testing affect the demand for cannajobs?
  6. How many workers will be required by peripheral industries, that is, companies supplying equipment like grow lights, containers, fertilizer, greenhouses and so on … and paraphernalia manufacturers? What about educators, doctors, writers, commentators, and poteconomists who don’t sell marijuana directly but are paid to interact with the industry?
  7. How many scientific jobs would be needed to research the virtually unlimited uses for marijuana and hemp?
  8. How many workers would traditional industries — Big Food, Big Agra, Big Pharma, Big Tobacco and more — require if they could add cannabis-based products to their offerings?
  9. The effect of cities and counties banning medical or recreational use on the demand for cannajobs. You would probably be aghast to learn that according to The Colorado Municipal League approximately 80% [4,079,564 people out of 5,187,582] of Colorado’s total population lives in cities which have banned MMJ. Many of the same cities and counties that banned MMJ are already maneuvering to prohibit sales of Amendment 64-approved recreational buds in their jurisdictions.
Map of Colorado counties which have opted out of MMJ, courtesy of Colorado Counties, Inc.

Map of Colorado counties which have banned of MMJ, courtesy of Colorado Counties, Inc.

Something to ponder

If unassailable figures from MMED and the US Census justify a prophesy of 324,440 pot-ential cannajobs in MMJ alone, for the sake of argument let’s suppose that the number of cannajobs required to support recreational cannabis is 3 times higher.

Using simple multiplication, what nice even number might 3 × 324,440 round off to?

It couldn’t be 1 million … or could it?

All will be revealed in Cannajobs 2013. Hope that whets your appetite!

hummingbird feeding on marijuana flower

Appetite whetted! Photo courtesy of