They say you can’t predict the future. But when it comes to corporate America, you can follow the money trail to see where it’s heading.

In this issue’s cover story, “Green waste revolution: Why cannabis legalization means big business for haulers,” we explore how shifting legislation in favor of cannabis legalization has paved the way for new opportunities for those in the waste sector.

When Gallup first polled Americans in 1969 on whether or not marijuana should be legalized, only 12 percent of the population supported it. That number stagnated in the 25-percent range for several decades until the new millennium, when the percentage of those favoring legalization began to steadily climb. Last year, a whopping 66 percent of Americans said they supported legalizing marijuana.

As cannabis has grown more socially acceptable and politically popular in recent years, so too has the industry supporting it.

A report that the marijuana industry site Leafly and Whitney Economics jointly released in March says cannabis accounts for the fastest growing job sector in the U.S. In 2018, the legal cannabis manufacturing and distributing sector accounted for the creation of 64,389 new jobs—a 44 percent increase from the year before. This was in addition to a 21 percent year-over-year increase seen in 2017.

“Amid the roiling debate over American jobs, the legal cannabis industry remains a substantial and unrecognized engine of grassroots job creation. … In 2019, America’s cannabis industry is one of the nation’s greatest economic success stories,” the report’s authors wrote.

In December 2018, Forbes reported that cannabis-related companies raised nearly 13.8 billion last year, which was up from $3.5 billion in 2017.

One of the most significant investment trends in 2018 was a number of big alcohol and tobacco companies making inroads into the cannabis sector in North America. Constellation Brands, the Victor, New York-based company behind Corona and Modelo, invested $4 billion in the Canadian medical marijuana company Canopy Growth; Denver-based Molson Coors announced a joint venture with Canadian-based cannabis producer The Hydropothecary Corporation; and Altria, the Richmond, Virginia-based company behind Marlboro and Skoal, announced it was investing $1.8 billion in the Toronto-based cannabis company Cronos Group.

With 33 states and the District of Columbia already having laws supporting either the medical or recreational use of cannabis, in addition to Canada’s nationwide legalization in 2018, indicators point to continued momentum for all things cannabis in 2019 and beyond.

A new kind of customer requires new waste management solutions. It’s up to the waste industry to take the lead to figure out how to best meet the challenges that are on the horizon.

Check out “Green waste revolution: Why cannabis legalization means big business for haulers,” to see what waste management companies need to know about handling the influx of cannabis byproducts entering the waste stream.