Since the first wave of cannabis legalization in 2012, the last year has been a challenging one for the industry. Despite the ebb and flow of legal marijuana in the U.S., the economic impact has been significant, to the tune of creating 243,700 full-time jobs for Americans willing to work in the industry, a 15 percent year-over-year rate of growth. These stats and more were courtesy of Leafly’s fourth annual Cannabis Jobs Report, released in early February.
Due to marijuana being federally illegal, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t include the legal cannabis industry when gathering data for its national economic database. Leafly took on the monumental task and has compiled an annual jobs report since 2017. Looking ahead into 2020 and beyond, Leafly researchers anticipate another noteworthy year for cannabis jobs. “The refusal to acknowledge the existence of legal cannabis jobs is a powerful act of shaming and stigmatization,” the report’s authors wrote. “There are now nearly a quarter of a million Americans whose professional lives are categorized as illegal or nonexistent by the government of the United States. That is outrageous,” they added.
The jobs report is chock-full of exciting tidbits beyond employment numbers surrounding the legal $10.73 billion industry. Leafly researchers included information on the hits the industry absorbed in 2019. These setbacks included the vape crisis, financing fiascos, instability within market-leading companies, and the difficulties faced rolling out the Michigan and California legal adult-use marijuana markets.
The news wasn’t all doom and gloom, however. The cannabis industry in 2019 celebrated success as well. In legal marijuana states, there was a 62 percent increase in cannabis jobs from the prior year. Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market tripled in sales volume, boasting $350 million in sales while also creating over 7,000 jobs. Meanwhile, medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania doubled their sales volume while also creating new jobs in the state.
Changes are on the horizon in 2020. Researchers anticipate a hiring frenzy in Illinois, Michigan and Missouri, where 192 medical marijuana dispensaries are slated to open over the year. On the west coast, California will welcome new market opportunities once municipalities that banned marijuana operations change course and allow it.
Leafly’s report indicates that cannabis industry workers will outpace other industries over the next ten years, with an increase of up to 250 percent by 2028. That’s big news indeed. The report also listed the top cannabis employment states from 2018:
- California (39,804)
- Colorado (34,705)
- Washington (23,756)
- Oregon (18,274)
- Florida (15,498)
- Arizona (15,059)
- Nevada (14,305)
- Massachusetts (13,255)
- Oklahoma (9,412)
- Illinois (9,176)