Monday, May 2, 2016

Clearing the Haze Surrounding Marijuana Employment

Marijuana use was first legalized in Oregon to some extent when the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) was approved in 1998. More recently, Oregon’s new recreational marijuana laws went into effect July 1, 2015. The law allows people 21 years of age and older to possess and use recreationally in a private household. It also allows the sale of recreational marijuana through licensed retailers. Soon after the legalization of recreational marijuana, the Oregon Employment Department received several inquiries about how much employment there is in marijuana-related businesses. Although it’s too early to say where employment levels will settle out, we do have some early indications.

Records of approved dispensaries are kept with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), which did a survey to provide insight into current business practices. The survey was conducted between February and March of 2015. At the time, there were 230 certified dispensaries in Oregon. At the time of writing this article, there were 413 registered dispensaries, 326 of which are certified for retail recreational sales.

The survey found that the average dispensary employed six workers, with an average of 186 weekly hours worked per dispensary. The average wage per employee was $11.96 per hour and 9.6 percent of employees were covered by employer health insurance. Although there is an error range to any survey data, this survey suggested about 2,478 full- and part-time employees in dispensaries at the time of the survey.

More complete data will be available as the OLCC begins issuing licenses for recreational marijuana. As of January 1, 2016, the OLCC began accepting applications for licenses for labs, processors, producers, retailers and wholesalers. A separate license is needed for each activity and a nonrefundable application fee applies.

OLCC also separates license applications by county. The top counties at the writing of this article were Multnomah (113), Lane (79), Clackamas (75), Jackson (74) and Washington (71).

Read the full article "Clearing the Haze Surrounding Marijuana Employment", written by Regional Economist Brian Rooney. 

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