Although President Trump has attempted to caress the once prosperous crevasses of the blue-collar working class by promising to bring back coal, the reality is this industry is dead. Some of the younger generations do not have any idea how this combustible rock is even utilized in this day and age, much less care about resurrecting jobs that would require them to work hundreds of feet beneath the Earth in dangerous conditions without a canary. Yet jobs are making a comeback in the United States—this is clear. But it has nothing to do with Trump and his pseudo-political mission to “Make America Great Again. The bulk of this growth is all because of legal marijuana. In other words, legal weed is the new coal.
The consulting firm Arcview estimates the legal cannabis industry will generate $40 billion and create 400,000 new jobs by 2021. In a report published earlier this week, just one day after California officially launched its full legal recreational market, the company projects the business of growing and selling weed will experience a 150 percent increase from the $16 billion that was earned in 2016. It seems the act of bringing down prohibition in more states across the nation has set the stage for a wealth of economic growth in the immediate future, one which will continue to contribute to the prosperity of the America workforce.
What is most impressive about the latest data is it shows an American population being given an opportunity to make a better life for itself, despite the industry’s outlaw status in the eyes of the federal government. It is progress that is allowing thousands of laborers, farmers, and friendly faces in jurisdictions throughout the country the unique position to flourish in an industry that is still cutting its teeth. The bulk of the workers employed by the cannabis industry are earning anywhere between $15-20 per hour. Considering the nation’s measly minimum wage ($7.25), finding a role in the world of cannabis could be a saving grace for those folks jettisoned from other industries or just trying to do more than take orders at the local McDonalds.
In reality, the revenue coming from the cannabis trade begins long before retail shops sell their first ounce.
Last year, a report from the Boston Globe revealed that a number of traditional industries, such as electricians and heating and air conditioning professionals, were experiencing a boom in areas where marijuana was made legal. This is because the cannabis companies wishing to call those areas their home are hiring contractors to revise real estate and install the proper mechanics to make those properties functional. In some cases, contractors are being pulled into to gut and rewire old warehouse for cultivation centers, while others are stripping down former retail shops and other vacant buildings and turning them into dispensaries. What’s even better is most of the money generated by contractors in those places often stays there—lending nothing but good things to the local economies.
In a lot of ways, legal weed is the new coal. Following years of plant closures and lost jobs, not to mention a wicked demand for cleaner energy sources, the coal industry considered is on its last leg. Even while the Trump administration looks to breathe new life into the age of natural gas in states like West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, there is just not enough solid evidence to indicate that Appalachia will ever see the old days of coal again.
During its heyday, the coal industry employed around 880,000 people. That was back in 1923. Today, there are roughly only 50,000 coal miners in the United States. The cannabis industry has already surpassed the low point of the coal industry, employing somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 people, even without federal regulations and support. The minute the federal government realizes that marijuana could be more of a benefit to the country than an enemy, the cannabis industry could easily rise up and join the ranks of the alcohol trade, which employs around 4 billion people nationwide.
But will this happen soon? Not on Trump’s watch. Although the president has voiced his support for medical marijuana, he is not a big fan of recreational use. Even Congress, which is dominated by Republican forces, cannot seem to get out of its own way long enough to even begin discussing this reform for the nation. Sadly, this inaction on Capitol Hill goes against the voice of the American people. Some of the latest national polls show that well over 60 percent of the population believe marijuana should be taxed and regulated like beer.