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Getting People Stoned Is Becoming Pretty Serious Business

The state of the marijuana industry is hazy, but a new report shows just how incredible job growth has been in 2014 now that 148 million Americans live in pro-medical marijuana states.

According to WeedHire, a company which connects employers with employees in the marijuana space, around 10,000 marijuana-related jobs have sprung up in Colorado over the last year. Some other analysts project the creation of 200,000 jobs for 2015.

Looking back through 2014, most of that demand from employers has been concentrated in a few positions, and from Q3 to Q4, dispensary jobs saw a 90 percent increase in growth. Medical jobs also skyrocketed in popularity, with a 70 percent increase, followed by administrative jobs at 65 percent and sales jobs at 56 percent.

Market research firm ArcView expects the overall market to grow by 700 percent in the next five years, meaning that marijuana policy reform is no longer a marginal issue.

“We’re in a unique position because as a site to connect employers with employees in the marijuana industry, we have direct access to the data. We can see the types of jobs and positions available, salary options, prior experience, as well as where they’re located. Employers are hard at work building their business and growing quickly,” David Bernstein, CEO of WeedHire, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Over the next five years, the anticipation is that the field will turn into a $47 billion dollar industry, expanding opportunities in all sorts of related markets, like hydroponics, agriculture, lighting and test control.

“Part of what makes job growth unpredictable is the states which administer these programs. Colorado was very aggressive in the way they put a program together. Other states are slower to adopt and put out the licenses to grow or sell marijuana, which is an impediment to job creation. But in the big picture, it’s going to become more mainstream,” Bernstein added.

Companies are counting on it. Some have already invested heavily in states where legalization measures have a good chance of being passed, like Nevada and Illinois, which will bring even more job opportunities. But there have been setbacks. Florida lost the bid for medical marijuana by around 100,000 votes in 2014, but many advocates expect the same proposal to be back on the ballot for 2015 or 2016. And not every state is as enthusiastic as Colorado. How states administer medical or recreational marijuana programs inevitably flows down into the rate at which businesses set up and expand.

Lauren Fraser, president of Auntie Dolores, told TheDCNF more about what it takes to run a successful company. Based out of Oakland, Calif., Auntie Dolores specializes in medical cannabis edibles for patients.

“We’ve had steadily high growth every year since 2008, and the growing pains that come along with that. We’re trying to move fast enough to keep up with the changing nature of the industry and the growing number of opportunities presented to us as a brand,” Fraser said. “Being nimble is a challenge, but it’s critical in this space – especially in California as we anticipate a significant shift in 2016. From a recruiting perspective, we look for very versatile people who can wear many hats, feel comfortable with change, and are self-motivated movers and shakers.”

Now that marijuana is increasingly viewed as a legitimate opportunity and attracting top-tier talent, Bernstein says that the stereotype of a field full of stoners is on its way out.

“People who work in the industry even now tend to be very serious about it,” Bernstein said. “They’re not looking to get stoned all day.”

Still, companies have also had a difficult time attracting investment surrounding marijuana, which the federal government still considers a Schedule 1 drug. But the industry continues soldiers on and is likely to exceed all expectations in 2015.

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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