Local jurisdictions that permit licensed marijuana operations experience job growth at higher rates than do localities that prohibit them, according to data published in the IZA Journal of Labor Economics

A team of economists affiliated with the University of New Mexico and with California Polytech State University compared county-level economic data in Colorado between the years 2011 and 2018. They reported that unemployment fell in counties where dispensaries opened relative to counties in which they did not.

Authors reported, “[W]e find consistent evidence of a decrease in unemployment and increases in the number of employees in manufacturing.”

They concluded: “Overall, the findings in this paper provide evidence that recreational cannabis dispensaries improved county-level labor market conditions in Colorado. … Our results suggest that policymakers considering recreational access to cannabis should consider employment effects as a potential outcome from recreational cannabis legalization.”

Separate studies have previously reported that marijuana retailers are positively associated with rising property values and reductions in certain types of localized criminal activities, such as larceny

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said that the data should guide local city councilmembers when deciding whether to regulate marijuana-related retail activities in their jurisdictions. “Locally-elected officials must choose which sort of cannabis marketplace they want operating in their neighborhoods – an above ground, transparent, legally regulated marketplace or an underground illicit market. These data should reassure local politicians that licensing the marijuana marketplace provides economic benefits without compromising public health or safety.”

Full text of the study, “The effects of recreational cannabis access on labor markets: Evidence from Colorado,” appears in the IZA Journal of Labor Economics. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, ‘Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy.’

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