The Washington State Institute for Public Policy has released their second round of reports required under the state’s cannabis legalization law, finding that adolescent cannabis use is not up since legalization and the industry has employed nearly 10,900 people.
The Evaluation and Cost-Benefit Analysis indicates that while legalization has not led to a spike in cannabis use among teenagers, consumption has increased among adults aged 26-and-older. Moreover, the think tank found that since legalization, students in sixth through twelfth grades report that cannabis is harder to obtain, with 90 percent of sixth graders indicating cannabis is “very hard to get,” while the sentiment is shared by about 85 percent of eighth graders, 55 percent of tenth graders, and 40 percent of twelfth graders.
Among adults, binge drinking rates are also down about 2 percent since legalization, although 30-day heavy drinking and heavy cannabis use rates, defined as 20-plus days, have remained stable around 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
The researchers said the findings “represent a snapshot” of their progress to date and “are an intermediate step toward the ultimate benefit-cost analysis” of the legalization initiative.
The Employment and Wage Earnings in Licensed Marijuana Businesses analysis reported that the 10,894 cannabis industry employees are equivalent to 6,227 full-time employees, and the industry has paid $53,250,843 in wages since the launch of legal sales. On average, licensed cannabis companies employed an equivalent of 8.99 full-time employees in the final quarter of 2016, but over one-third of those businesses had fewer than four full-time employees. The average wage for a cannabis industry employee was $16.45 per hour, with a median wage of $13.44 per hour.
“The average wage is higher than the median wage because a few highly paid workers lifted the average above the median,” the report states.
As of April 11, there were 2,020 licensed cannabis businesses in Washington state, the bulk of which, 1,438, were producers or processors. Another 572 licenses were for retail dispensaries, with seven transportation licenses and three tribal compacts.
The researchers note on the employment report that there are “several limitations” to the research and they have “taken a conservative approach to estimation wherever possible.”