We can all think of dozens of ways that legalizing cannabis has improved things for the states that have chosen to take this path – however, some of the benefits are not always considered right from the get-go. One of the many benefits of legalization is the boost to the job market and the economy – and normally we think of the numerous job openings that crop up from cultivation facilities, dispensaries, processors, edibles makers and more, as well as the possible entrepreneurial opportunities.
These are not the only ways that legalization will benefit the job economy however. In many states, with legalization comes the realization that old convictions, especially for things like possession, which depending on the amount is no longer illegal, deserve to match the current law. This means that thousands of people around the country will have the opportunity to see a clean criminal record, if their possession or other marijuana-related charges are now either legal, or a minor fined offense.
Having convictions of even a misdemeanor, let alone a felony, removed from your criminal record can open numerous opportunities that simply weren’t there before. Higher paid jobs with better hours become available when a criminal record is no longer holding you back. Background checks can disqualify you from jobs in management positions, local government jobs and school jobs – all are often full-time jobs with benefits including health insurance and retirement funds.
Many people with cannabis related convictions are held back on the career front for a “criminal” charge that some states no longer even recognize as a crime. Even the legal cannabis industry often performs background checks – and felony charges generally disqualify a potential candidate, even if the felony is a cannabis-related charge. Imagine, applying for a job at a cultivation facility – but being denied the job because of a felony charge for growing marijuana. Surely you see the irony?
There are downsides to this – with a flood of applicants that have newly expunged criminal records means more qualified candidates and more job seekers. However, the creation of jobs by the introduction of a new industry will almost certainly begin to bring balance to the changes that legalization brings to the job market.