Despite Layoffs, Cannabis Industry Job Growth Continues to Boom

Amid layoffs appearing as a constant, The Supreme Cannabis Company is the latest in the industry to let a percentage of its staff go. Last night after the market’s close, the company announced a 15% layoff, releasing a third of corporate positions and 13% of its operational ones. This report comes after the announcements of companies like Tilray and Aurora also slashing jobs. 

All hope is not lost though in the ganja workforce. Leafly found 243,700 full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs in the United States that are supported by legal cannabis as of January 2020. That is a 15% annual increase. 

This data was reported in Leafly’s fourth annual Cannabis Jobs Report. Even more encouraging, the report shows that the industry created 33,700 new jobs nationwide in 2019, effectively making it the fastest-growing job arena in the United States. 

According to the report, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Illinois are leading the fight in terms of employment expansion. Massachusetts recently celebrated the one year anniversary of legalizing cannabis for adult-use in the state and added 10,226 jobs to boot. Oklahoma saw a 221% growth in 2019, supporting 9,412 full-time jobs. Illinois adult-use market rolled out on the first of the year, and early 2020 data shows this is already a $470 million annual market supporting 9,176 jobs.

An interesting tidbit of information, Massachusetts has more cannabis industry workers than hairstylists and cosmetologists, and Illinois has twice the number of cannabis industry workers than they do meat packers. When compared to other industries, it is truly amazing to see the creation of jobs in the United States by the industry, as well as the cannabis industry’s growth in general. 

Though the previously mentioned states take the prize for the fastest job growth, California is still America’s largest cannabis employer. However, Colorado may be the nation’s biggest per-capita cannabis job market. With California offering one job per 980 residents, Colorado supplies one job per 165 residents. 

Colorado is also passing Washington state in terms of jobs. Though both states legalized cannabis for adult-use in 2012, Colorado supplies nearly 10,000 more jobs than Washington state, despite Washington’s population containing nearly 2 million more residents. 

Despite cannabis job expansion’s rapid growth in most of the country, California and Michigan suffered technical job losses. 

Leafly’s experts estimate that their job markets fell due to changes in laws and regulations. In California, an estimated 8,000 jobs moved from legal to non-legal status, but as mentioned before it is still America’s largest cannabis job provider. Michigan’s new regulatory processes pushed hundreds of legally operating dispensaries into illicit status. 

Leafly started their annual job counts four years ago, upon the discovery that federal and state labor economists do not account for state-legal cannabis jobs in their employment reports. The reason? Federal prohibition. The NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes classify cannabis retail stores in the same category as art supply stores, hot tub stores, and auction houses. While cannabis cultivators have the same job code as hay farmers and agave growers. 

It is important to note that this report does not include jobs created by CBD since it’s recent change in legal status. Because the regulations for CBD differ from state-legal cannabis, there is no data to build from yet.

Kaitlin Domangue

Kaitlin Domangue

Kaitlin is a 23-year-old wife and mom to three children. She is a financial reporter for the Green Market Report and a freelance writer for other businesses in the cannabis space.


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