How Many Jobs Depend on Legal Cannabis?

How Many Jobs Depend on Legal Cannabis?

Thanks to the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, America is currently experiencing the most dramatic job boom in recent history. While cannabis remains federally illegal, employment data agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics sadly ignores all job growth related to the industry. This makes it very difficult to determine the number of full-time jobs supported by America’s legal cannabis. reported that the federal government does not allow cannabis jobs to be tallied using NAICS codes, which are the basis for most standardized employment data in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Documenting those jobs that depend on legal cannabis is more important than ever.

Who Calculated the Number of Legal Cannabis Jobs?

Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource found online and they are the first to explore data related to this major American job boom. Their special report was recently released on March 4, 2019 and includes the following: total number of cannabis jobs in America, total number of cannabis jobs by state, cannabis jobs 3-year forecast compared to the most in-demand jobs, indirect and induced jobs created by the cannabis industry, 2018 total cannabis tax revenue in adult-use states, job growth predictions for the cannabis industry in 2019, salary ranges for the most in-demand cannabis jobs and tips on getting hired for positions within the cannabis industry.

How Were Legal Cannabis Jobs Calculated?

Leafly’s data team, working in partnership with Whitney Economics, has gone state-by-state to tally the total number of direct, full-time jobs in the state-legal cannabis industry over the past three months. According to Leafly’s Special Report, “using state-reported data, industry surveys, on-the-ground reporting, Leafly’s proprietary data, and economic formulas devised by Leafly and Whitney Economics, we’ve done what the federal government and most states refuse to do: count cannabis jobs. Building on the work established by Whitney, the Marijuana Policy Group, and state economists such as Karinne Wiebold, Leafly examined all the cannabis data recorded in each legal state—from weekly sales figures in Massachusetts, to cannabis tax revenue in Washington, to patient counts in New York, to the tonnage of cannabis sold in Arizona (yes, Arizona measures it by weight). By cross-checking what we know about the average annual spend of a medical cannabis patient, the price of flower, and jobs-per-gross revenue, we arrived at our estimates.”

How Many Jobs Depend on Legal Cannabis?

After several months of research Leafly came to the conclusion that as of March 2019, more than 211,000 Americans support their families and communities with legal cannabis jobs. That means that there are currently more legal cannabis workers than dental hygienists in the United States. In 2017, Leafly estimated that the cannabis workforce increased by 21 percent and that there were roughly 120,000 legal cannabis jobs. The cannabis workforce gained another 44 percent increase in 2018 and Leafly predicts at least another 20 percent growth for legal cannabis jobs in 2019. That would represent a 110 percent growth in cannabis jobs in just three years.

Leafly also calculated the indirect and induced full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs generated by the cannabis industry. Indirect jobs are occupations that depend on or service the cannabis industry, but do not directly work with cannabis products. Examples of the indirect jobs that depend on the cannabis industry are employees at Leafly, lawyers, accountants, security consultants, media companies and marketing firms. Induced jobs are those created by the economic impact of direct and indirect cannabis industry jobs. For example, when Leafly hires data analysts and software engineers, their wages circulate through the local economy and support jobs in a myriad of industries. When indirect and induced jobs are added into the total number of full-time American jobs that depend on legal cannabis, the number rises 296,000.

Legal Cannabis Jobs in Nevada

Leafly provides a detailed report detailing the number of direct, indirect and induced jobs supported by cannabis for each legal cannabis state. Find out which states are booming by downloading the State-By-State Analysis Report. Here’s what they found for Nevada: “Despite a relatively small residential population, Nevada leapt into the nation’s cannabis big leagues in 2018, moving from 4,193 jobs to 11,766 jobs. We expect Nevada to continue to grow far beyond its residential scale due to the 39 million visitors Las Vegas hosts every year.”

What Are These Legal Cannabis Jobs? adds to this topic in May 2018 by stating that jobs are growing in the cannabis sector and so are the businesses offering them. More jobs are needed among small and large cannabis companies that include growers, processors, sellers and those that service and supply those companies. Most of the jobs in the marijuana industry are currently with small businesses, the bulk of which need only a handful of employees to maintain daily operations. Large, multimillion-dollar cannabis companies are beginning to emerge, and will likely become more prevalent as the industry matures, but the landscape currently is still dominated by small players.

Considering a career change into the cannabis industry? Check out page 12 of Leafly’s Special Report that offers five tips for people considering a leap into the cannabis industry. Keep scrolling down to page 13 and 14 to find out a few salary and hourly wage ranges for some of the industry’s most in-demand legal cannabis jobs. As stated in this report, “according to a recent data dive by Glassdoor, the median paycheck in the cannabis industry is 11% higher than the U.S. median salary of $52,863.”

Leafly declares in their final message to their readers, “in 2019, America’s cannabis industry is one of the nation’s greatest economic success stories. That success deserves to be recognized and celebrated. This is an industry that welcomes strict regulation and fair taxation, asking only to have its outdated and unjust federal penalties removed.”


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