The 2022 job report from Leafly explores the newest data on cannabis jobs, which provides an in-depth look at the cannabis industry’s most recent data, as well as predictions for the future.
In conjunction with Whitney Economics, Leafly released its annual Jobs Report 2022 on February 23. The report states that approximately 428,059 full-time jobs have been supported by the legal cannabis industry (as of January 2022) over the past year. This covers a wide variety of cannabis-related roles, from “plant-touching” jobs such as cultivation and retail sales, to ancillary jobs such as accounting, legal affairs, security, or construction. The most recent job number is a large increase compared to previous years, which reflected 321,000 jobs in 2021; 243,700 jobs in 2020; 211,000 in 2019; 149,300 in 2018; and 122,800 in 2017 (the first year that the job report was released).
“In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s cannabis industry sold nearly $25 billion in products and created more than 107,000 new jobs—enough to fill the Rose Bowl and then some,” the report states in its introduction. “That’s a 33 percent increase in jobs in a single year. And it marks the fifth year in a row of annual job growth greater than 27 percent. No other industry in America can match that. Last year, America’s legal cannabis industry created more than 280 new jobs every day. In 2021, someone was hired for a cannabis-supported job about every two minutes of the work day.” The report also provides other means of comparison to put things into perspective, including how there are three times as many cannabis workers as there are dentists in the U.S. and that there are more people working in cannabis than there are a combined total of hair stylists, barbers, and cosmetologists.
It also breaks down the top 10 cannabis markets for jobs, including California, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania (medical only), Florida (medical only), Arizona, Washington, and Oregon. However, the report also recommends that if you’re looking to relocate for a cannabis job, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York are full of possibilities for various listed reasons, such as the potential of specific markets that are new or beginning soon, or mature markets with a competing illegal market.
Report authors estimate that these numbers will only continue to rise in the coming years, but there is a lot of opportunity for growth. “In the eight years since 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 yet to be created. Whitney Economics calculates that the 2021 total cannabis sales figure—just under $25 billion—represents only about 25 percent of the total potential US cannabis market,” the report states. It continues by saying that 75 percent of the cannabis industry’s demand is being satisfied by illegal cultivation and sales, and it is estimated that by 2025, the cannabis industry could be worth up to $45 billion.
This data continues to be an important milestone to track the industry’s growth, even amidst the historical job loss that occurred during the pandemic. According to NORML Political Director Morgan Fox, the future looks promising. “At a time when the rest of the economy is struggling and people are leaving their jobs in droves, the legal cannabis industry is blooming, showing exponential employment growth, and attracting talented and driven individuals from across the workforce,” said Fox. “Yet, outdated federal laws define these same people as criminals and as a result, they are frequently denied access to banking services, housing, education, international travel, and citizenship. It is long past time for Congress to end prohibition and start treating this robust regulated market like any other industry.”