The Cannabis Industry is (Quietly) Becoming a Massive Job Creator


Ryan Allway

May 20th, 2019

App, Policy


Cannabis may not be federally legal in the United States, but Leafly’s 2019 Cannabis Jobs Count suggests there are more than 211,000 full-time workers in the industry and nearly 300,000 workers when including indirect jobs, such as lawyers, accountants and other professionals helping cannabis businesses.

Let’s take a closer look at these dynamics to see what states experienced the most growth last year and where the fastest growing will take place in 2019.

Florida Tops the List in 2018

Leafly found that the U.S. added 64,000 full-time cannabis jobs last year, which represents a 44% annual increase. Florida had the most jobs added last year with just over 9,000 positions, representing a 703% year-over-year increase. Nevada and Washington came in second place with about 7,000 jobs each.

The nearly 300,000 cannabis workers throughout the country compare to just 52,000 coal mining jobs — a campaign focus for President Trump — 69,000 brewery workers, and 112,000 textile manufacturing employees. These figures illustrate just how massive the cannabis industry has become in just a few years.

California Tops the List in 2019

California is expected to add more than 10,000 new cannabis jobs in 2019, which puts it at the top of the list as more consumers move from illicit to legal markets. This will bring the state’s total market to about 47,822 jobs in 2019 with expectations to reach 58,083 jobs by 2020.

Massachusetts came in second place for the anticipated increase in jobs this year at 9,564. Unlike California’s modest 21% increase, these gains amount to a 317% increase for Massuchusetts year-over-year. Florida came in third place with 5,136 new jobs representing a 50% increase over 2018.

Catalysts and Challenges Ahead

The cannabis industry continues to experience many challenges even in states where it has been legalized. For example, entrepreneurs aren’t able to take advantage of federal tax breaks under the rules of IRS Section 280E, which could constrain their hiring from levels they’d like to see.

At the same time, many employees may be hesitant to work in the industry given the uncertain federal status. The requirement for most businesses to operate in cash means that many employees also face a lot of security risks that they wouldn’t otherwise face in other industries.

Despite these constraints, the cannabis industry has become one of the countries greatest success stories, according to Leafly, which deserves to be celebrated.

Ryan Allway

About Ryan Allway

Mr. Allway has over a decade of experience in the financial markets as both a private investor and financial journalist. He has been actively involved in the cannabis industry since its inception, covering public and private companies.


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