Due to the fact that cannabis has yet to be legalized at the federal level, the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is unable to count the number of marijuana-related jobs in the country, and the year-over-year statistics related to those jobs.
It’s for this reason that, with a yearly examination of employment in the legal marijuana business, Leafly’s news and data teams have done their best to fill that void since 2017. Since 2019, Leafly has worked with Whitney Economics, a worldwide expert in marijuana and hemp business consultancy, statistics, and economic research.
The lack of statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics means that without Leafly and Whitney Economics filling in that gap, we’d likely have no idea the extent to which the cannabis industry holds sway over the US job market.
Pot Has Annual Jobs Growth of More Than 27% For 5 Years Running
One of the main things found in Leafly’s report, released just last month, was that for five years in a row, the legal marijuana industry has seen record annual jobs growth of more than 27% each year. In comparison, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a mere 8% jobs growth in the financial and business sectors over the next 10 years total.
In 2021 alone, the marijuana industry added a total of 107,059 jobs to the work market. That’s roughly 280 jobs created every single day of the year, representing a 33% year-over-year increase.
According to the report, Leafly wrote, “To put that in perspective, America’s entire financial sector added 145,000 jobs last year. The construction industry, coast to coast, added 165,000 jobs.”
Despite the obstacles of the continuing pandemic and the fact that all other industries across the nation are losing employees to remote work, personal decisions, and career changes, the marijuana sector grew jobs at a pace of 27% or greater for the fifth year in a row in 2021. What this proves is that even with the obstacles faced by the job sector amidst the pandemic and other factors, like “The Great Resignation”, the cannabis industry remains the most potent job creator in the United States, with no other sector even coming close.
In 2019, the cannabis sector added a total of 32,700 jobs to the US labor market, while in 2020, it added a further 77,300. Bruce Barcott, senior editor at Leafly and executive producer of the Leafly Reports, and Beau Whitney, founder of Whitney Economics, project that when cannabis is legalized at the federal level, the industry could likely support upwards of 1.7 million jobs nationwide.
An Industry Ignored, A “War On Drugs” Almost Won… For Us
The biggest problem that the marijuana industry faces right now is that even though it’s outpacing every other industry out there in terms of job creation, the fact that cannabis remains illegal on a federal level means that the entirety of the pot industry is ignored by labor analysts on a federal level.
Yoko Miyashita, CEO of Leafly, had this to say on the subject of the massive growth of job creation in the marijuana industry, as well as the gap left by federal analysts, “Since 2014, when 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 more yet to be created. 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.
Leafly is proud to step up and fill the gap created by a lack of federal reporting, and to advocate for federal legalization that’s equitable and accessible to all communities.”
Related Reading: How to Get a Job in the Legal Cannabis Industry… If You Dare!
Since Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12564 in 1986 mandating drug testing for all federal employees – which, in turn, eventually saw other non-federal employees forced into random and pre-employment drug testing, hundreds of thousands of hardworking people have been passed up for jobs.
However, in recent years, many companies have begun to loosen their mandatory drug testing policy, most famously, Amazon in June of 2021. It’s not a coincidence that since the loosening of these weed testing policies by mainstream companies, the marijuana industry’s workforce has exploded and continues to expand. In fact, it’s a direct correlation. The legalization of cannabis has led to the stigma surrounding cannabis use and working to ease immensely, which is what has driven many of these companies to stop mandatory random and pre-employment testing.
It’s time that the federal government stops ignoring the amazing work that the marijuana industry is doing for this country. Not only is it bringing millions of dollars into the US, but it’s also currently employing just under half a million people, with that number projected to continue to rise in the coming years. Once legalization on a federal level happens, millions of jobs will be created for American citizens who are struggling to find meaningful, long-term work.