In spite of, or perhaps in light of, the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing the “new normal” still work itself out, resulting in sweeping changes across every industry.
Agricultural workers strike for better pay and conditions. Hiring managers are at a loss for workers. The supply chain is grinding to a halt. As U.S. workers seek more interesting jobs with better pay in fields they favor, FlowerHire, a cannabis talent recruiting agency, is finding that the cannabis industry is filling that void.
The Factors Affecting Cannabis Job Growth in 2021 and 2022
Pre-pandemic, the West Coast reigned in the realm of cannabis reform, with Washington, Oregon, and of course, California, completely legalizing recreational use at the state level.
In the heat of COVID lockdowns and one of the most polarizing elections in U.S. history, Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota legalized recreational use in 2020, and Florida reformed its medical marijuana laws.
Marijuana is medically legal in Pennsylvania, and a bill was introduced to legalize it recreationally on 28 September 2021.
And let’s not forget that marijuana became legal in Virginia on 1 July 2021. While the groundwork is still being laid for retail sales, they are currently expected to begin in 2024.
Like a reverse Manifest Destiny, U.S. citizens’ demand for marijuana law reform is making its way to the East Coast, and so are its jobs.
What Does the Data Say?
FlowerHire, a recruiting agency that pairs talent with jobs in the cannabis industry, has some data to share which promises hope for cannabis jobs in 2022.
Founded in 2017, FlowerHire offers job recruiting and retaining services for hemp companies and their employees, plus an AI-driven software called FlowerHire X™ to help them optimize their team. As a result, FlowerHire has unique access to data across the cannabis market. The agency released a report in October 2021 outlining the current state and future outlook of leadership jobs in the cannabis industry.
In short: look out East Coast! It’s a veritable Green Rush. Opportunity is out east as FlowerHire asserts that 80% of new job demand is outside of California, and 68% of people FlowerHire has paced in 2021 have been east of the Mississippi, up from 50% in 2020. If you have experience in management and leadership positions, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Michigan want you. FlowerHire has based this data on six-figure cannabis jobs with an average salary of $140,000 per year.
So where can you go to find these high-paying careers in cannabis?
According to FlowerHire CEO David Belsky, “Cannabis job growth in Florida came out of nowhere.” Job growth in Florida quite literally went from 0.0% to 7.5% from 2020 to 2021, with the recruiting agency citing Florida-based brands Curaleaf, Trulieve, and Liberty Health as the top hirers.
Pennsylvania, too, saw massive growth, going from 1.1% of FlowerHire’s job placements in 2020 to 8.5% in 2021.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts and Michigan are holding on strong to moderate pieces of the hiring pie. Belsky reports that job creation in these states is happening across all stages of the chain, from cultivation to warehousing to retail.
What Does This Mean for Cannabis Jobs in 2022?
If you’re on the hunt for a job in cannabis, you’re no longer required to uproot your life and set off for sunny (and expensive) California.
Belsky agrees. “This [data] shows that legalization is spreading nationwide and gaining traction leading to more emerging cannabis job markets.”
Indeed, overall investment in cannabis continues to rise as new states come on board. And it’s not just in recreational markets. Leadership positions in medical markets on rising fast, lending credence to what most of us already know: there are medical benefits to cannabis.