Legal Marijuana Industry Employs 321,000 Full-Time Workers

Seattle, WA: Jobs in the state-licensed cannabis industry rose 32 percent during the past 12 months, and the industry now employs over 321,000 full-time workers, according to data compiled by

According to its 2021 report, the regulated cannabis industry added approximately 78,000 new jobs over the past twelve months. Authors of the report acknowledged that the industry’s increased growth was especially notable because it occurred in “a year marked by a global pandemic, spiking unemployment, and economic recession. … Outside the cannabis industry, the US economy shrank by 3.5 percent, the unemployment rate almost doubled, and nearly 10 million Americans saw their jobs disappear.”

To put the 2021 job totals in perspective, authors wrote: “In the United States there are more legal cannabis workers than electrical engineers. There are more legal cannabis workers than EMTs and paramedics. There are more than twice as many legal cannabis workers as dentists.”

States adding the greater number of new cannabis-related jobs were California (23,707 jobs), Florida (14,891 jobs), Michigan (9,216 jobs), and Illinois (8,348 jobs). Overall, the total number of full-time jobs in the licensed cannabis industry has risen nearly three-fold since 2017.

Retail sales of cannabis products reached all-time highs in 2020, bringing in record levels of tax revenue. “During a year that saw many sectors of the American economy constrict, we witnessed historic economic growth in the legal cannabis industry,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “The dramatic rise in the number of players participating in the state-legal cannabis space, and in total sales, is a result of more consumers transitioning from the illicit market to the above-ground legal marketplace. As more legal markets come on board and mature, consumers are going to continue to gravitate toward it and away from the underground marketplace.”

Full text of Leafly’s report is available online. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, “Marijuana Regulation: Impact on Health, Safety, Economy.