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Nearly 500,000 People Work in the Legal Marijuana Industry, So How Many More People Work in the Illicit Market?


cannabis jobs in America

The exponential increase in cannabis sales in the past two years has resulted in a massive expansion of the cannabis industry. The total number of people employed full-time in the cannabis sector today is almost five hundred thousand. And is still increasing monthly as more states establish their legal cannabis markets.

Last Wednesday, Leafly disclosed that hundreds of Americans are transitioning into the cannabis industry as cannabis-related businesses are opening up more employment opportunities. As states come online, different positions open up in these businesses. While these businesses mature and expand, other people are brought into new positions.

There are dozens of cannabis positions in the industry currently, and every day, more marijuana job openings are created across the cultivation, processing, retail, and even delivery niches. The industry is just kicking off.


Employment Opportunities within the US Cannabis Industry

Before the massive boost in sales during the pandemic, the marijuana industry had fewer than 100,000 workers. The increase in cannabis job creation started when retail sales increased exponentially.

As states like New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York are set to implement retail sales in the coming months, cannabis workers will exceed half a million. Figures from 2021 show a sizable difference in the number of workers from 2020 to 2021. Regardless of the ongoing issues, In the global business space, the cannabis industry has continued to soar. In fact, many displaced workers from other sectors have switched careers to delve into the different niches in the cannabis sphere.

In 2021, at least 100,000 new jobs were created in the U.S. cannabis industry by legal cannabis states. Compared to 2019’s 32,700 new jobs, last year was the best year for the cannabis industry. In 2020, about 76,000 jobs will be created. One can only wonder what this figure will be at the end of the year. As of December 31st, 2021, the total number of workers in the marijuana industry was pegged at 428,059—almost a hundred thousand more than 2020’s total count.


More Details About The Report

Leafly partnered with Whitney Economics, a cannabis economic analysis firm, to compile this detailed report. The report also pointed out that both cannabis markets, that is, the recreational and medical markets across legal states in the country, sold at least $25 billion worth of cannabis products from January to December 2021. This figure is about $6 billion more than 2020’s total cannabis sales.

The report stresses that the marijuana industry has the fastest growth in the global market. It has outpaced other legal traditional markets and is still OK with the move. The sector has an employment growth rate of more than 25 percent; this has been the case since 2018. Compared to the cannabis industry, other conventional businesses have grown by less than 10 percent. Experts predict this trend will continue until the current decade ends in 2030.

Leafly explained that the industry’s expansion is being slowed down by job shortages, pending retail implementations, and unfilled job positions. From now till the time retail sales are implemented in different states, employees will be busy hiring enough workers to ensure they are capable enough to meet their future demands.


An Economic Driver

For many legal states, the cannabis industry is acting as an economic driver, pushing their various economies to new heights. From the first implementation of retail sales of recreational cannabis in 2014, the U.S. cannabis industry has gone on to create hundreds of thousands of new job openings. Yoko Miyashita, CEO of Leafly, pointed out that there are hundreds of new American jobs that will be made in the coming years. In an official statement, it is explained that the cannabis industry has the potential to be a food economic determinant in the futre in legal states where hemp food and cannabis-infused are gaining traction. He expressed his joy at seeing the rising number of new jobs in the cannabis industry. He says that the employment numbers reflect the positive growth of the industry.

Miyashita mentioned that his corporation, Leafly, is proud to advocate for the federal legalization of cannabis. He promised that Leafly would continue to connect consumers and investors with reliable information about the industry. Note that there is a considerable gap brought about by the lack of federal reporting on cannabis-related issues. Without Leafly and other cannabis publishing groups like, many would be in the dark about the state of cannabis operations in the country. As long as an equitable and accessible federal cannabis program is approved by the legislative or executive branch of government, more positive changes will be observed.

There’s no better time to solicit cannabis reforms than election years. This year, the midterm elections will take place. Voters have to ensure that elected officials understand the need for cannabis reforms. In countries like Canada and Germany, cannabis has remained a leading homegrown industry. America can also achieve its goal of an equitable and profitable industry in no time.


The Reality of the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry is growing to be one of the most populated industries for workers in the United States. Experts analyzed the industry’s figures and discovered three times as many workers in the marijuana ecosystem as there are dentist. You could even say that there are more cannabis job openings than barbers and tailors combined.

At this rate, the total number of workers employed in cannabis-related businesses will reach and exceed one million workers. The total annual revenue generated by the cannabis industry could also double before 2025. Even at that level, the industry would still be unable to meet half of its potential market.


Bottom Line

The American cannabis industry, excluding the black market, creates an average of 250 new jobs daily. This translates to a person getting hired for a cannabis-related job every two minutes. If this figure seems possible, consult recent data on tax revenues and marijuana sales in different legal states, and you’d be amazed.

It’s more than evident that the cannabis industry is here to stay. It will continue to expand as more states adopt medical and recreational cannabis reforms. As it grows, hundreds of new jobs are created to satisfy consumer demand. If you’re looking to switch careers, look no further than the cannabis industry.









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