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State Agency Envisions Cannabis Cultivation Boosting Job Growth in Alaska

Bethan Rose

by Bethan Rose

March 17, 2023 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
State Agency Envisions Cannabis Cultivation Boosting Job Growth in Alaska

Who would have thought that cannabis cultivation could be Alaska’s biggest earner? 

Over the course of the next eight years, marijuana cultivation is set to soar to new heights. Based on the latest employment trend report issued by Alaska’s labor department, marijuana cultivation will experience the most tremendous growth.

The Alaska Department of Labor foresees marijuana cultivation steering all of the state’s industries regarding job growth between now and 2030. Throughout the pandemic, recreational cannabis sales in AnchorageAlaska’s largest metropolitan areacontinuously inflated.

State figures indicate that Alaska’s biggest city earned $9 million in recreational cannabis sales during September 2020. This is 25% more than the sales revenue recorded during the same time period in 2019. These sales figures are featured in the October edition of Trends: a monthly report published by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

COVID Pandemic Did Not Starve Cannabis’ Success

Unlike other sectors, cannabis cultivation has not been drowned by the pandemic. Rather, it has been fueled to exceptional proportions, with Alaska’s cannabis industry deemed to be the highest-growing of the nation in terms of job growth. 

A number of key takeaways are highlighted in the report, including the following:

  • Marijuana cultivation and production catapulted 8.2% in 2020.
  • Medical cannabis growers account for 40% of the state’s farmers, fishing, and forestry workers.
  • Farming, fishing, and forestry sectors lend 80% of their growth to marijuana cultivation.

Marijuana falls into the “farming, fishing, and forestry” category, and according to state economists, the job growth in this category is generously fed by marijuana. Farmworkers and laborers make up most of the employee pool at 40%. Within the next decade, 80% of the sector’s growth will likely emerge from agricultural and hands-on laboring roles.

Healthcare stands out as a major catalyst for job growth in Alaska, and the numbers indicate that there will be a big shift on the way. Now that the pandemic is over, it’s likely that we’ll see a surge of interest in this area. Interestingly, 14 of the top 25 fastest-growing jobs are in healthcare. Roles in this area are anticipated to receive 16% more growth in the coming decade.

Alaska’s Cannabis Industry Is on a Steady Incline

The people of Alaska have been indulged with legal marijuana since Nov. 4, 2014. Following the passing of Measure 2, which passed with 53.2% of the vote, people aged 21 and above have been legally able to purchase marijuana for recreational purposes. Adults can possess a maximum of 1 ounce of marijuana and/or grow six marijuana plants for non-commercial purposes. However, the limit stands at three mature plants. 

Marijuana tax revenue estimates show that Alaska was projected to rake in $28.2 million in 2020, while the actual amount was $24.5 million. The following year, the state generated over $28 million in tax revenue. License records from the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development indicate that the state is home to more than 150 currently operating retail marijuana shops.

A 2020 report issued by the state health department found that smoking was the most common method of cannabis consumption among Alaskans in 2017, with 86% of consumers lighting up to get their daily dose of cannabinoids. Based on the report, most consumers favored the remedial qualities of cannabis for relaxation and tension relief. The report also highlighted an increase in edible consumption. Vaping may also transform the scene of cannabis smoke clouds into plumes of cleaner vapor for consumers who don’t want to smoke.

State-licensed entities that sell cannabis in a retail setting to individuals aged 21 and over are regulated statewide. Marijuana sales by unlicensed entities remain subject to criminal penalties. Adults can legally possess 1 ounce of marijuana and/or cultivate six marijuana plants (no more than three mature plants) for non-commercial purposes. Hashish, hashish oil, and other preparations enriched with THC are still deemed to be Schedule III substances in Alaska.

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