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Legal Cannabis Fuels US Job Boom: Florida, Nevada Are The Biggest Gainers

March 31, 2019 8:21 am
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Legal Cannabis Fuels US Job Boom: Florida, Nevada Are The Biggest Gainers

One sector that has been a silent contributor to the U.S. labor market — but hasn't been recognized yet due to the stigma of being a federally illegal business — is the cannabis industry, according to a report by Leafly.

A Major Industry Left Out Of Jobs Data 

The number of full-time jobs in the legal U.S. cannabis industry is now at 211,000, courtesy of an addition of 64,389 jobs in 2018, according to Leafly. 

The total number of full-time legal cannabis jobs in the U.S. would likely to soar to 296,000 if indirect and induced jobs were also taken into account.

To put things in perspective, the report said there are now more legal cannabis industry workers in the U.S. than dental hygienists. Among other industries, coal mining jobs currently number 52,000; brewery jobs stand at 69,000; and textile manufacturing jobs total 112,000.

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The federal government excludes cannabis from jobs data due to it being a federally illegal substance. States that have legalized cannabis also exclude cannabis jobs, as the model used to count jobs uses the NAICS code, and one does not exist for cannabis, according to Leafly. 

How did Leafly arrive at the numbers? The website said it collaborated with economists, who correlated job numbers to cannabis sales.

State-By-State Breakdown 

Florida topped the states in terms of the absolute number of jobs added, as the state added 9,068 cannabis jobs in 2018, a 703-percent increase to 10,358, Leafly said. The Sunshine State is followed by Nevada, which has seen a 181-percent increase to 7,573 jobs.

In terms of percentage growth, Pennsylvania recorded a 4,208-percent increase from 90 in January 2018 to 3,878 one year later. 

Infographic: The States Getting High On Marijuana Jobs | Statista

Source: Statista

Despite the double-digit percentage gains in legal cannabis jobs in Washington and Colorado, the gains in those states represented a slowdown or a leveling off as opposed to the overall triple-digit percentage growth of the industry.

What's Fueling The Job Growth? 

The legalization of recreational marijuana in 10 U.S. states and Washington D.C. and medical marijuana in 34 states led to a 34-percent jump in legal cannabis sales in 2018, creating incremental job opportunity in the sector.

What The Future Holds

From early 2017 to January 2020, cannabis jobs are estimated to increase by 110 percent, Leafly said.

Oklahoma is likely to experience a boom like the ones witnessed in California and Colorado when the first dispensaries opened in those states, the report said. 

In Michigan, where recreational marijuana was legalized with a November vote, a concurrent spike in job gains may not be seen until 2020, Leafly said. 

"In the near term, we expect Massachusetts to double its cannabis jobs in 2019, from 3,020 to around 6,000," the report added.

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