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Cannabis job growth higher than ever, report finds. Will weed become one of America’s biggest job-creators?

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If you’ve ever considered dipping your toe in the cannabis industry, this may be your chance. As more states legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis, economists and industry experts are expecting a surge in hiring in the cannabis sector in 2022. 

The cannabis marketplace Leafly recently issued its sixth annual cannabis industry jobs report, claiming there are now 428,059 full-time equivalent jobs supported by the legal cannabis industry across the United States. 

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Last year marked the fifth consecutive year that the cannabis industry saw an annual job growth rate higher than 27%.

“Since 2014, when the nation’s first adult-use cannabis stores opened, the industry has created hundreds of thousands of new American jobsand there are still plenty more yet to be created,” said Leafly CEO Yoko Miyashita. “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 in a press release

.Among the report’s key findings:

  • Last year marked the first time cannabis job creation hit six figures. The industry added 107,059 new jobs in 2021. This comes on the heels of 32,700 jobs in 2019 and 77,300 jobs in 2020.
  • America’s legal cannabis industry created more than 280 new jobs every day in 2021. Last year, someone was hired for a cannabis-supported job every 2 minutes of the workday.
  • The total cannabis sales figure of $25 billion represents only about a quarter of the total potential cannabis market in the United States. 

Miyashita said these findings are a source of evidence cannabis advocates could use now isto push for decriminalization and legalization.

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“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,” he said.

This uptick in cannabis job growth should come as little surprise, as more states approve recreational and medicinal marijuana, said Josh Glasstetter, spokesperson for the US Cannabis Council.

“Cannabis has been a job-creation engine during a time of great disruption in the economy,” Glasstetter told GreenState. “We fully expect this trend to continue as more states legalize and regulate cannabis, followed by eventual federal legalization.”

Glasstetter, who works with cannabis organizations and businesses dedicated to legalizing cannabis, marveled at the sector’s growth, despite obstacles in its path. 

“It’s remarkable that the cannabis industry has created so many jobs while being subject to banking restrictions and taxation levels that are unheard of elsewhere in the economy,” he said. “Congress can begin to level the playing field by passing SAFE Banking as part of the America Competes Act. Next, they should move to provide 280E tax relief.”

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Leafly partnered with Whitney Economics on the study, which calculated the employment in the 38 states with some form of legal cannabis. The team was able to get state-specific data by exploring specific regulatory environments, investment climates, cannabis license data, and past performance to shape each state’s employment calculation.

Leafly’s jobs report examines the entire cannabis industry, including both ancillary and plant-touching jobs. 

The report concludes that with Connecticut, New York,  New Jersey and New Mexico expected to open their first adult-use cannabis stores within the next year and a half, the nation’s cannabis job creation boom is expected to continue through at least 2025. 

“With 11 adult-use and 38 medical market states we’re seeing about $25b revenue annually, and the market has an estimated potential of $100 billion with full legalization – which, needless to say, would boost all aspects of the industry,” according to Leafly. 

Glasstetter echoes Leafly’s wishes.

“We look forward to the day when cannabis is treated fairly, on par with other businesses. When that happens, the job growth will be even more impressive than it already is.”

 

Jordan Guinn is a published journalist with bylines in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the Stockton Record and more. He’s covered everything from agriculture, to violent crime to water.