27 February 2022 |

420,000+ Full Time Jobs



420,000+ Full Time Jobs

Breaking down the latest employment report on the U.S legal cannabis industry… 

It has become impossible to ignore the positive impact legalizing cannabis is having on economies across North America, this at a time whereby cannabis companies are effectively being asked to operate with one hand tied behind their backs.

As we highlighted in the previous edition of The Green Paper, legal cannabis companies are by no means without challenges in 2022, however, despite all of the obstacles policy makers place in their path — the legal cannabis industry continues to experience record year over year growth.

The Data… 

In 2021, the year when a global pandemic brought many national economies to a complete standstill, consumers purchased over $25 billion USD worth of legal cannabis products in the United States alone.

Better yet, the legal cannabis industry created 107,000 net new jobs — that’s 293 new jobs each day, 12 new jobs each hour, or 1 new job every 5 minutes in 2021.

As we can see from this data, the cannabis industry shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon with a 33% increase in the number of full time jobs in 2021.

In comparison to other industries, the financial sector in the United States added 145,000 new jobs in 2021, however, the finance sector employs 9 million workers which marks a 1.61% increase in net new jobs, whereas the cannabis industry experienced a 33% increase in the number of net new jobs during this same period.

This exponential growth has put the cannabis industry on track to become one of the largest employers of any sector in the U.S, however, as we can see from the data below – there remains room for substantial growth in the years to come.

The Primary Factor

The primary factor ensuring the continued success of the legal cannabis industry in the U.S is additional states allowing adults to access legal cannabis products.

On top of this, a number of mature markets such as California continue to expand as almost 50% of consumers in the region still purchase cannabis from the illicit market in 2021, highlighting just how much growth there is left to go in the long run.

The following states experienced the most significant growth in 2021 based on the percentage increase in total cannabis sales vs 2020.

The following are the top states based on total sales in 2021:

1) California

  • Total Sales: $5.18 billion 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 83,607

2) Michigan

  • Total Sales: $1.79 billion 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 31,152

3) Illinois

  • Total Sales: $1.78 billion 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 28,992

4) Massachusetts

  • Total Sales: $1.65 billion 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 27,212

5) Florida

  • Total Sales: $1.5 billion 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 25,895

6) Arizona

  • Total Sales: $1.35 billion 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 23,333

7) Oregon

  • Total Sales: $1.18 billion 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 19,938

8) New Jersey

  • Total Sales: $189 million 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 3,147

9) New York

  • Total Sales: $149 million 
  • Total Full Time Jobs: 2,358

Looking Forward

By the end of 2022, I expect the legal cannabis industry in the U.S will employ over half a million people, and in turn I can see this becoming one of the most widely cited data points when presenting the case to embrace legalizing cannabis.

Currently, there are 18 states where cannabis is legal for adult-use purposes with 37 states providing access to medical cannabis, however, very few people would be willing to wager that cannabis will remain illegal in a single state a decade from now.

As such, for those willing to play the long game in cannabis, there’s every reason to be wildly optimistic that both the total sales & the total number of people employed in the cannabis industry will continue to grow at a very significant rate each year.

Our Take

One of the best arguments for cannabis to be legalized at a federal level in the United States, and more broadly for cannabis to be legalized in every nation across the globe is the number of new jobs the legal cannabis industry can create.

Every politician wants to get re-elected, and cannabis provides one of the most obvious opportunities to create new employment opportunities for local economies.


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