The Legal Cannabis Job Boom: Over 200,000 New Jobs in 2018

The Legal Cannabis Job Boom: Over 200,000 New Jobs in 2018

The cannabis industry now employs over 211,000 people full time across the 34 states that have legalized either medicinal or both medicinal and recreational pot. If we also count indirect employment, the figure rises to nearly 300,000 individuals who now enjoy job safety thanks to marijuana legalization. It is safe to assume that as more and more states legalize cannabis, the industry will continue to boost the U.S. job market.

According to Leafly, which boasts 15 million monthly visitors to their site, this employment trend is "America's hidden job boom." While federal agencies still refuse to count the number of new cannabis jobs because the substance remains illegal at the federal level, Leafly has teamed up with Whitney Economics to analyze data and recently published its auspicious findings.

In 2018 alone, Leafly reports, marijuana created 64,389 full-time jobs in the U.S. When compared to other industries, this 44 percent increase makes cannabis the fastest growing employment sector in America.

Florida was the state that added the largest number of new full time cannabis jobs in 2018, while Pennsylvania saw the most spectacular growth: a 4,208 percent increase; from 90 jobs in January 2018 to 3,878 one year later. Analysts predict marijuana jobs will more than double from 2017 to 2020.

According to Leafly’s research in 2018:

  • In Florida, cannabis employment grew by 703 percent, reaching a total of 9,000 jobs.
  • In Nevada, the year ended with 7,500 jobs
  • In New York, cannabis employment grew by 278 percent, reaching 5,000 jobs.

The states with the largest offer of cannabis jobs today are California, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas. Although the regulation of California’s medicinal market created a disruption that caused demand for new employees to stagnate, the market is expected to bounce back, and a 21 percent increase in cannabis jobs is expected for this year.

Leafly’s report also includes some interesting qualitative analyses about how legal cannabis is attracting talent across the U.S. “In New York City,” it states, “three colleagues left high-profile jobs at Black Enterprise magazine to start their own cannabis-focused enterprise. EstroHaze, their startup, is now a leading media and consulting firm in the cannabis space.”

Another story involves Philadelphia’s Chris Visco, who quit a lucrative job in retail to start TerraVida Holistic Centers, which is described as “the largest medical cannabis dispensary” in the state of Pennsylvania.

People are also switching careers to seize the opportunities cannabis has to offer in places like rural Oklahoma, where farmers are converting vegetable greenhouses into cannabis grows and putting out sizable harvests, in the Colorado Rockies, in Michigan, and beyond.


David Kani

David Kani is a Newport Beach, California based business lawyer with a focus on cannabis companies, their investors, employees and cannabis-related litigation.
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