Report: Legal Cannabis Industry Now Supports 321,000 Full-Time American Jobs, Doubling in Size Since 2018

Leafly’s fifth annual Cannabis Jobs Report shows record year-over-year industry growth of 32 percent despite challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic

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SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Today, cannabis resource and marketplace Leafly released its fifth annual cannabis industry jobs report. The 2021 report shows that legal cannabis now supports a record-high 321,000 full-time American jobs across the 37 states with legal medical or adult use markets, and that the cannabis industry added 77,300 jobs in just the last year, representing a record 32 percent increase in year-over-year growth and creating jobs at a faster rate than any other American industry.

It’s time that our federal policies reflect this reality, and we legalize cannabis while ensuring equity and participation for those disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs, so everyone can benefit from this rapidly growing industry. Business Wire

The cannabis industry was a bright spot of growth and opportunity in a challenging year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Declared essential businesses by many states early on in the pandemic, cannabis-related businesses not only created new jobs, but drove a record-high $18.3 billion worth of cannabis product sales in 2020 -- a 71% increase over 2019 -- providing crucial tax revenue that has helped communities across the country. The growth of the cannabis industry echoed record-high support among Americans to legalize cannabis, and five additional states voted to allow medical or adult use sales, bringing the total number of states with legal cannabis sales to 37.

Despite record growth in the industry, the 2021 Leafly Cannabis Jobs Report also shows how legal cannabis still faces social equity challenges. Troubling racial and gender disparities in business ownership remain, and the report examines strategies to close this gap, including legalizing, decriminalizing, and descheduling cannabis, as well as removing barriers to capital for communities of color.

“We’re proud of the cannabis industry as a bright spot for so many after a difficult 2020. The essential cannabis industry is our nation’s unseen and unrecognized economic engine, creating good, full-time jobs that have helped to keep people and local economies afloat,” said Leafly CEO Yoko Miyashita. “It’s time that our federal policies reflect this reality, and we legalize cannabis while ensuring equity and participation for those disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs, so everyone can benefit from this rapidly growing industry.”

Key findings from the 2021 Leafly Cannabis Jobs Report include:
  • The speed of legal cannabis job growth exceeds every other American industry -- the number of full-time cannabis jobs has doubled since 2018 and skyrocketed by 161% over the last four years.
  • The average monthly cannabis purchase size increased across every age and gender demographic, with consumers buying 33% more cannabis per month than in 2019.
  • Some states, like Michigan and Illinois, more than doubled the size of their cannabis industries last year.
  • California remains the nation’s leader in cannabis jobs, with 57,970 full-time equivalent jobs and more than $3.77 billion in cannabis sales in 2020.
  • Illinois rose two spots on the list to #8 in the state’s first year with legal adult-use cannabis stores open, tripling its total sales and adding more than 8,000 new full-time jobs-- but of 75 new cannabis store licenses expected to be issued in 2021, not one is minority-owned.

The 2021 Leafly Cannabis Jobs Report includes detailed state-level data for the top ten states by cannabis job numbers, and can be accessed here.

Methodology

Federal prohibition prevents the U.S. Department of Labor from counting state-legal marijuana jobs. The 2021 Leafly Cannabis Jobs Report was created by journalists, editors, and data analysts at Leafly, in partnership with labor economists at Whitney Economics, using publicly available sales data compiled by state cannabis regulatory agencies, as well as cannabis employee license data, median state salary statistics, and cannabis job salary surveys. Other factors that influence the Leafly Jobs Report include seasonal/annual market forces, investment and the availability of expansion capital, business optimism surveys, state-by-state licensing and regulatory conditions, registered medical marijuana patient counts, per-patient spending averages, and other annual business climate indicators.

About Leafly

Leafly is the world’s online destination to learn about cannabis, find cannabis strains and products, and buy them from legal, licensed retailers. More than 100 million people visit us each year because of our proven commitment to education and science-based information.

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