The legalization of marijuana has brought many positive changes- especially to the New Mexico workforce. The state’s Department of Workforce Solution’s monthly Labor Market Review shows that New Mexico cannabis workers earn more than they did at their non-cannabis jobs. “The data show that for some people, the grass is greener in the cannabis industry,” the report states.

Farmers hold marijuana (cannabis) trees on their farms.

Looking at the Numbers for New Mexico Cannabis Workers

The cannabis industry is booming in New Mexico. The legal industry took off in the state in April of 2022. By the end of the year, 4,666 New Mexico cannabis workers were employed in the industry with 9 out of 10 working in the retail sector.

The first year of legalization also saw $300 million in recreational cannabis sales with the medical marijuana industry contributing another $187.4 million.

The labor report showed that New Mexico cannabis workers had an average weekly salary of $560 which was lower than most industries. However, when comparing those numbers to 2021 wages, most New Mexico cannabis workers were earning more than they did at their previous non-cannabis jobs.

“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. Analyzing their wage records shows that their average weekly wage increased once they joined the cannabis industry,” the report states.

The records show that most New Mexico cannabis workers came from other industries. “Trade, transportation, and utilities had the highest share (11.1%), followed by leisure and hospitality (8.4%), education and health services (4.4%), and professional and business services (4.2%),” the report states.

The remaining 25% of New Mexico cannabis workers had no previous wage data reported suggesting they may have moved from another state, recently graduated from school, or were self-employed. 4 out of 10 workers were previously employed in the cannabis industry.

Statistics show 151 cannabis firms operating in New Mexico at the end of 2022. Nearly 75% of those businesses were brick-and-mortar or online retail stores. 21 of the firms grew and cultivated plants. 10 of the businesses were processors and four were wholesalers. The report also listed four other companies with unspecified activities.

Most businesses were in highly populated areas. 1 in 3 were based in Bernalillo County, the state’s most populous county and home to Albuquerque.

A Look at Other States

gardener holding clump of grass in his arm

New Mexico isn’t the only state that’s thriving thanks to the marijuana industry. Arizona sales reached $1.4 billion by the end of 2022. Massachusetts’s recreational market has earned the state $4 billion since launching at the beginning of 2018.  

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, one of the few states that have yet to legalize marijuana, a senator has pointed out that his state has lost more than $121 million due to residents going across the border to buy cannabis in Illinois.

New Mexico’s Take on Success

State leaders are thrilled to see New Mexico cannabis workers thriving and they are pleased with the success of the industry. Governor Lujan Grisham says she is, “excited to see what the future holds as we continue to develop an innovative and safe adult-use cannabis industry.”

Licensing Department Superintendent Linda Trujillo says New Mexico is “looking forward to even more growth in year two.”

The governor has recently signed a bill that will automatically expunge past cannabis-related crimes. However, she chose to veto another measure that would have made it illegal to incarcerate people for other drug offenses.

Lawmakers in the state are also advancing a bill to review a potential psilocybin therapy program for patients with mental conditions that may benefit from psychedelics. The state’s medical marijuana program added insomnia as a qualifying condition last month.

Cannabis Salaries Country-Wide

New Mexico cannabis workers are bringing in the dough. But how do their salaries compare to the rest of the country?  Statistics show it’s all good.

Industry wages are rising as legalization increases. Companies are seeking out individuals for a wide range of positions that range from budtenders and delivery drivers to marketers, lawyers, and accountants. And because the industry is relatively new, industry-specific knowledge is not necessary. Many skills can be transferred from other sectors.

Cannabis recruiting platform Vangst shows a 75% increase in cannabis employment over the past two years. They credit the increase, in part, to the pandemic which made weed a necessity. The hiring boom has accounted for more than 400,000 cannabis workers across the country.

The organization believes that many workers left their jobs to seek out employment in “a more lucrative and rewarding sector”.

It is predicted that the growth in cannabis markets in New Mexico, New York, Virginia, and Connecticut will create over 100,000 additional jobs and 50,000 temporary jobs moving forward.

The Position Matters

medical doctor holding cannabis leaf and bottle of cannabis oil on white background.

The cannabis industry offers a variety of job opportunities with some paying better than others. Here’s an estimate of what you can expect to earn.

The report also shows that many cannabis companies are intent on promoting entry-level workers to leadership positions to improve retention rates and reduce training expenses. Workers who were promoted to executive roles are seen as adding great value to the company.

So, what are you waiting for? Are you inspired by New Mexico cannabis workers statistics? Will you consider getting in on the ground floor of the cannabis industry?