Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), resigned on Tuesday, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. He is expected to leave the agency in about a month.
Gottlieb’s presence mattered because he made CBD one of his high-priority issues.
In the cannabis industry, Gottlieb’s departure raises immediate questions about the status of cannabidiol (CBD), the popular, nonintoxicating cannabis component. Congress’ passage of the farm bill in late 2018 seemed to open the door to nationwide CBD legality. But the DEA still considers nonprescribed CBD to be an illegal Schedule I drug, and many legal scholars caution against assuming that CBD is legal just because it’s available in a growing number of mainstream stores.
Gottlieb’s presence mattered because he has made CBD, along with nicotine vaping and opioid abuse, one of his high-priority issues. Just recently, Gottlieb told a congressional committee that the FDA was “deeply focused” on finding an appropriate way to handle CBD.
One Leader Makes a Difference
Gottlieb also said he’d like to work with Congress to find a legislative solution that would allow CBD to be sold in conventional food and dietary supplement stores. The FDA could consider CBD in an agency rulemaking process, Gottlieb said, but that process could be subject to long delays and would not be, in his words, “straightforward.”
“There’s not a good proxy for us doing this through regulation, and if we get comments back and find that this is sufficiently complicated for the agency, we will come back and have a discussion with Congress about how we might be able to work together on this,” Gottlieb said in testimony Feb. 27 before the House Committee on Appropriations. (That testimony was covered by reporter Josh Long at the Natural Products Insider.)
Gottlieb also addressed the CBD question last month at a conference hosted by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Marijuana Moment’s Kyle Jaeger was there to capture this quote about the FDA seeking “possible alternative approaches” to regulating CBD:
“We’re planning to seek broad public input on this pathway, including information on the science and safety behind CBD. But we know that this process could take time,” Gottlieb said. “So we’re also interested in hearing from stakeholders and talking to Congress on possible alternative approaches to make sure that we have an appropriately efficient and predictable regulatory framework for regulating CBD products.”
Some public health experts and activists took the news of Gottlieb’s departure hard, in part because the former physician and venture capitalist has been considered one of the most competent Trump appointees.
NPR described Gottlieb as “widely viewed as an effective advocate of public health,” and some praised his team’s work cutting tobacco and opioid deaths, lowering teen nicotine use, and reducing the cost of generic drugs.
Others saw the commissioner as a public official who remained too cozy with commercial interests. “We are not sorry to see him go now,” Public Citizen’s Michael Carome told BuzzFeed News, “and [we] hope he is not just replaced by someone else with such deep entanglements with industry.”
As of 2019, Legal Cannabis Has Created 211,000 Full-Time Jobs in America
How many jobs are there in the legal cannabis industry? It’s a common question–and one the government refuses to answer.
Because cannabis remains federally illegal, employment data agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics ignore all jobs related to the industry.
Legal cannabis is the greatest job creation machine in America. Our employment data proves it.
That’s too bad, because they’re missing one of the most dramatic job booms in recent history.
Over the past three months Leafly’s data team, working in partnership with Whitney Economics, has gone state-by-state to tally the total number of direct, full-time jobs in the state-legal cannabis industry.
There are now more than 211,000 cannabis jobs across the United States. More than 64,000 of those jobs were added in 2018. That’s enough people to fill Chicago’s Soldier Field, with 3,000 more tailgating outside.
Legal cannabis is currently the greatest job-creation machine in America. The cannabis workforce increased 21% in 2017. It gained another 44% in 2018. We expect at least another 20% growth in jobs in 2019. That would represent a 110% growth in cannabis jobs in just three years.
Download the Full Report
Special Report: 2019 Cannabis Jobs Count is available only at Leafly. The main report offers a national overview of direct employment as well as indirect positions and jobs induced by the legal cannabis industry. We also offer data about tax revenue in legal states, growth predictions for 2019, salary ranges for the most in-demand cannabis jobs, and tips on getting hired. The report’s appendix offers a state-by-state analysis of market size, growth, and job numbers.
Growth Compared to What?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently compiled a list of the industries with the fastest-growing employment figures. Opportunities for home health care aides are expected to grow 47%. Openings for wind turbine technicians are expected to increase 96%. The need for solar voltaic installers is expected to grow 105%. Those gains are projected to happen over the course of 10 years.
Here’s the incredible thing: The 110% growth in cannabis jobs will have happened over just three years.
Federal job counters won’t tell you that. We just did.
These States Are Booming
Some states that have had legal adult-use cannabis sales for a while now–Colorado and Washington opened their stores in 2014–are just now seeing the growth in cannabis jobs start to plateau.
Meanwhile, newly legal states, such as Florida (medical) and Nevada (adult use), are experiencing cannabis job booms with eye-popping gains:
Florida grew its cannabis employment by 703% in 2018, adding more than 9,000 full-time jobs.
Nevada added more than 7,500 jobs during that same year.
Pennsylvania ended 2017 with around 90 cannabis jobs. It ended the 2018 with nearly 3,900.
New York grew its cannabis employment by 278%, ending 2018 with more than 5,000 jobs.
Download the State-by-State Analysis
Who’s Hiring in 2019
California, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas are seeking talent–and they need it now.
California’s cannabis hiring remained relatively flat in 2018 due to the disruption caused by the changeover from an unregulated medical system to a licensed, regulated markets for medical and adult use. But we expect cannabis jobs in the Golden State to increase by 21% in 2019. In raw numbers, that means 10,261 jobs with good salaries, benefits, and opportunity for advancement are waiting to be filled.
In Massachusetts, the state’s adult-use market is just getting underway. We expect more than 9,500 jobs to be added in the next 12 months.
Florida should add more than 5,000 jobs in 2019, bringing the state’s total cannabis employment to around 15,000.
Oklahoma is the Wild West of cannabis right now. There were zero cannabis jobs one year ago. Now there are 2,107. A year from now, we expect there to be 4,407.
Arkansas is just getting its medical marijuana program underway, but there’s room for growth: from 135 jobs now to 960 jobs by the end of the year.
How to Land a Job
All this week, Leafly will roll out a series of articles about working in the cannabis industry: where the growth is, what it’s like to work in the cannabis industry, and how to crush that job interview and bring an offer home.