A recent report published by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions shows that individuals—specifically ex-accommodation and food service employees—who recently took up jobs in the cannabis industry were paid more than they were in previous job roles.
The report stated that as of the fourth quarter of 2022, there were 151 cannabis dispensaries in New Mexico and 112 were operating as a recreational dispensary or online platform. There were also a recorded 21 cannabis businesses licensed to cultivate, 10 processors, four wholesale trade, and four categorized as “all other sectors.”
With that data in mind, the state employed 4,666 workers within that time frame, with 4,122 working in firms and 171 in cultivation. The cannabis firms were most commonly found in Bernalillo County, followed by Doña Ana County, Santa Fe County, and San Juan County.
New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions broke down cannabis employment data in comparison to non-cannabis jobs. The agency wrote that 39.3% of New Mexico jobs during Q4 2022 were cannabis related, whereas 35.5% of the state’s job force was working in other industries. This includes trade, transportation, and utilities (11.1%), leisure and hospitality (8.4%), education and health services (4.4%), professional and business services (4.2%), and numerous other categories that fall at two percent or less.
One line graph compared the cannabis and non-cannabis wage records. “One reason why members of this cohort may have left their previous place of employment to work in the cannabis industry is to earn higher wages,” the report stated. “Analyzing their wage records shows that their average weekly wage increased once they joined the cannabis industry.”
In Q4 2022, the average cannabis worker was receiving $560 per week in wages. “We then compared this average weekly wage to the wages of all workers working for privately-owned firms in the fourth quarter 2022,” the authors continued. “All industry sectors had an average weekly wage higher than $560 except for accommodation and food service. That industry had an average weekly wage of $474, a difference of $86. The data shows that for some people, the grass is greener in the cannabis industry.”
As of April 2023, New Mexico’s recreational cannabis industry collected more than $300 million. Recreational cannabis sales went into effect in April 2022, and within that year, regulators issued an estimated 2,000 cannabis licenses across the state (633 retail licenses, 351 producers, 415 micro producers, and 507 manufacturers). “In just one year, hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity has been generated in communities across the state, the number of businesses continues to increase, and thousands of New Mexicans are employed by this new industry,” said New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham in April. “I’m excited to see what the future holds as we continue to develop an innovative and safe adult-use cannabis industry.”
In April, the cannabis job data company Vangst released an annual report about the growth and decline of jobs in specific cannabis markets. The top states for cannabis job growth included New Mexico among others such as Missouri, Michigan, New Jersey, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Maine, and Illinois. In 2022, it showed that New Mexico gained 2,532 cannabis jobs, which is a 63% gain compared to the previous year. As of February 2023, total cannabis jobs sat at 6,565.
While Vangst data showed that because more states like New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Montana have legal medical and/or recreational industries, states like Colorado have begun to see a decline in jobs. Overall, the states that lost the most cannabis jobs included California (12,600 jobs lost), Colorado (10,481), Oklahoma (7,224), Oregon (4,278), Nevada (3,276), and Arizona (1,737).