EAGLE POINT, Ore.- Cannabis advocates say recreational marijuana is a leading industry in Southern Oregon. But like all new things, the shine wear off and growers have to adjust their businesses to stay in the game.
Brent Kenyon pushed for recreational marijuana legalization for 25 years.
Kenyon says, "We're going to see a lot of up and down over the next 5 to 10 years. This is a brand new industry and it's a lot like the end of prohibition for alcohol where were saying jobs are going to spike and go down and everything's going to go up and down including prices so we'll see how the market works itself out."
Looking at summer employment alone, the Rogue Valley had about 70 payroll jobs in the crop farming industry in 2013. By the summer of 2017, there were more than 700 crop farming jobs in the Rogue Valley.
Kenyon says, "It's not a surprise to me at all that a lot of these folks are able to get a legal job in this industry and are seeking out those legal jobs."
The Oregon Department of Employment says one of the biggest changes with legalized marijuana is unemployment insurance. Now that employers can put their workers on a legal payroll system, state employment numbers are up.
Kenyon says, "We had a lot of employees on the medical side that were never tracked so I think a lot of those numbers have been here for quite a while but now we're seeing them on a state registry and they're getting these official card so we're going to see these folks come out into the light."
Kenyon estimates another significant jump in jobs with the marijuana industry, he says there are thousands of licenses waiting for approval with the OLCC.