In four years, the cannabis industry’s job growth has increased 161%, quickly beating predictions from other industries 10 years from now.
Leafly’s fifth annual cannabis jobs report showed the cannabis industry to support 321,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2021! An incredible number for an amazing and highly-deserving industry.
Cannabis jobs aren’t accurately reported to the Department of Labor because it’s federally illegal, so in partnership with Whitney Economics, Leafly has been filling that gap since 2017! The result is a goldmine of knowledge, and always filled with incredible cannabis job data.
The 2021 report found that there are more legal cannabis industry employees in the United States than:
EMTS and paramedics
Dentists (more than twice as many!)
The United States added 77,300 full-time jobs in the cannabis industry in 2020, despite the ravaging pandemic. This represents a 32% year-over-year job growth, which is absolutely phenomenal considering 2020 was the worst year for U.S. economic growth since World War II.
Cannabis Job Breakdown by State
Medical marijuana has been legalized in 37 US states, and there’s an adult-use market in 15 states and Washington D.C. According to the report:
There are more cannabis employees in Florida than plumbers
Michigan employs more cannabis industry professionals than cops
California employs more cannabis workers than bank tellers
Added 23,707 cannabis jobs in 2020
Has 59,970 total cannabis jobs
The state’s industry grew 80% from 2019 to 2020
Added 4,338 cannabis jobs in 2020
Has 35,539 total jobs
Executed $2.28 billion in cannabis sales in 2020
Added 14,981 jobs in 2020
Has 31,444 total jobs
Florida sales more cannabis than any other state besides California and Colorado, despite only being legal medically
Added 687 jobs in 2020
Has 17,981 total jobs
Did $1.1 billion in sales last year, putting the state at the $1 billion mark for the first time
Added 524 jobs in 2020
Has 19,873 total jobs
If cannabis was counted alongside WA’s other agricultural commodities (cherries, apples, etc.), it would rank in the top 10 in economic value
Added 8,348 jobs in 2020
Has 16,837 total jobs
Comparing the Cannabis Industry’s Growth to Other Industries
If you’ve learned anything from reading this article, it’s that the cannabis industry is booming. Therefore, job creation is, too.
In four years, the cannabis industry’s job growth has increased 161%, quickly beating predictions from other industries 10 years from now. Leafly’s 2021 report found in 10 years from now:
Speech pathology will grow 25%
Animal caretaking will grow 23%
Data analysis will grow by 32%
Home health aides will grow by 34%
Solar power installation will grow by 51%
Nurse practitioners will grow by 52%
Wind turbine techs will grow by 61%
Even the largest job growth, wind turbine techs, won’t achieve the same growth in 10 years as the cannabis industry already has in just four years!
The COVID Effect: How Cannabis Businesses Thrived During the Pandemic
When the coronavirus began to spread and reached other parts of the world, the cannabis industry was concerned (those of us at The Green Market Report included) that our space would take a massive hit. Most of us were bracing for impact, and waiting for the worst.
Surprisingly, the glorious opposite happened (for most.) Unfortunately, all industries have lost some businesses due to the pandemic, but cannabis businesses were deemed essential pretty much everywhere. Cannabis retailers responded beautifully, and innovative responses included:
Limited customers inside once indoor service began again
It’s also amazing considering many retailers, like MedMen, faced unmanageable losses when rioters stole and destroyed their storefront during last summer’s protests. Many retailers were forced to start over, yet the industry continued to boom.
Cannabis employment also looks different during the days of COVID, as less employees are required and more people have to stay home for various COVID-related reasons. One business owner reported more staff turnover during 2020 than the last five years.
Massachusetts retailers sold $700 million worth of cannabis products in 2020, compared to $400 million in 2019 – even with Gov. Charlie Baker’s statewide shutdown temporarily halted all retail sales in April. Cannabis stores in Massachusetts still posted a 75% annual sales gain over 2019, despite the shutdown.
The report says:
Cannabis consumers increased their monthly spend by 33%
Sales increased at the beginning of March and continued to rise, then plateaued in April-May
There was a 71% increase in cannabis sales from 2019 to 2020
Americans bought $18.3 billion worth of cannabis products in 2020
Black-Owned Cannabis Businesses Are Still Sparse
A lack of diversity is an issue that has been plaguing the cannabis space since legalization began, and according to this year’s report – we still have much work to do.
Very few states have public data relating to racial or gender diversity in the cannabis space, but Cannaclusive is doing just that. Cannaclusive’s database includes:
500 Black-owned cannabis businesses
Black Americans only represent 1.2-1.7% of all cannabis company owners
Some of the most troubling points for diversity in the cannabis industry:
Illinois added 8,000 cannabis jobs last year. Not a single minority-owned business is a finalist for one of the new 75 store licenses expected to be issued in 2021
Only 1% of cannabis retail stores are Black-owned. This is three stores out of 260 across the state
Though this data is concerning, privately funded equity and incubator programs are answering the call to action and making more funds available to minority business owners.