Is the Cannabis Industry the Most Powerful Job Creator in America?

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Leafly, a leading online cannabis discovery marketplace and resource for consumers, released its sixth annual marijuana industry jobs report.


Leafly’s annual Cannabis Jobs Report, created in partnership with Whitney Economics, a global leader in cannabis and hemp business consulting and economic research shows that America’s cannabis industry sold nearly $25 billion in products and created more than 100,000 new jobs in 2021.

RELATED: What’s Prompting a Surge In Cannabis Jobs?

More than 400,000 jobs in cannabis

According to the report, there are 428,059 full-time equivalent jobs supported by the legal cannabis industry in the U.S. Furthermore, America’s 11 operating adult-use markets and 27 medical marijuana states combined sold just under $25 billion worth of cannabis products – more than $6 billion from the previous year.

The report forecasts that total employment potential in a mature US legal cannabis market could potentially reach 1.5 to 1.75 million workers, nearly 4 times as many workers as in this year’s report.

“Since 2014, when the nation’s first adult-use cannabis stores opened, the industry has created hundreds of thousands of new American jobs – and there are still plenty more yet to be created. We know the potential cannabis has as both an economic driver and force for good, and it’s heartening to see employment numbers continue to reflect this strong growth,” said Leafly CEO Yoko Miyashita.

“Leafly is proud to step up and fill the gap created by a lack of federal reporting, and to advocate for federal legalization that’s equitable and accessible to all communities. During this midterm election year, it’s essential our elected officials recognize the reality that cannabis is a leading, homegrown American industry, and help us achieve our goal of an inclusive and profitable cannabis industry for all,” Miyashita added.

RELATED: States With the Greatest Jobs Growth In Cannabis

Most powerful job creator in America

Leafly told Benzinga that this year’s 2021 report demonstrates that cannabis continues to be the most powerful job creator in America. “2021 was the fifth year in a row the cannabis industry saw an annual job growth rate higher than 27% – with a 33% increase in cannabis jobs in just a single year.

“To put that in perspective, employment in business and financial occupations is only projected to grow 8% through the decade. With states like New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut expected to open their first adult-use cannabis stores within the next 18 months, America’s cannabis job creation boom is expected to continue through at least 2025,” noted Leafly “There has never been a better time to land a job in the legal cannabis industry.”

The Leafly Jobs Report found that nationwide cannabis sales increased 33% in 2021, while “the investment capital that fled the cannabis space in early 2020 has largely returned, giving companies the money needed to increase payroll.” However, the report also noted that there are not enough applicants for the industry.

Key findings

  • 2021 marked the first year that cannabis job creation hit six figures. After adding 32,700 jobs in 2019 and 77,300 jobs in 2020, the industry added 107,059 new jobs in 2021.
  • The United States now has three times as many cannabis workers as dentists.
  • There are more people employed in the cannabis industry than there are hairstylists, barbers and cosmetologists combined.
  • As of 2022, three out of four Americans now live in a state where medical cannabis is legal.
  • The total cannabis sales figure in this year’s report—$25 billion—represents only about 25% of the total potential US cannabis market.
  • By 2025, America’s total annual legal cannabis revenue is forecast to be closer to $45 billion, which is still less than half the total potential market.
  • Last year, America’s legal cannabis industry created more than 280 new jobs per day.

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