Leafly and Whitney Economics have issued an annual jobs report reflecting updated jobs and revenue numbers for the state-legal cannabis industry in 2020. While 2020 will be remembered as the year that a deadly pandemic shuttered thousands of small businesses, it should also be remembered as the year that set the cannabis industry on a path to become a leading economic contributor to the U.S. economy.
The Leafly report found that there are now 321,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs supported by the state-legal cannabis industry nationwide as of January 2021. According to Leafly’s data, there are now more than twice as many cannabis workers in the United States than there are dentists.
While federal prohibition prevents the Department of Labor from collecting cannabis-related job statistics, Leafly has conducted their own jobs analysis since 2017. According to their research, cannabis job growth last year doubled compared to 2019 figures.
Despite a global pandemic, entire sectors of our economy in deep trouble, and civil unrest in our politics, the cannabis industry thrived. The industry added 77,300 full-time jobs in 2020, representing year-over-year 32% job growth – a figure that Leafly characterized as “astonishing.” According to Leafly’s research, cannabis is now a $18.3 billion dollar industry (a 71% increase over 2019 numbers).
While these statistics are nothing less than astonishing, they also demonstrate that the industry has more to do when it comes to diversity and inclusion. For example, Black Americans represent 13% of the population in the United States, according to Leafly, but only represent less than 1.7% of all cannabis company owners.
While Congress weighs de-scheduling measures, regulatory plans, and diversity, equity and inclusion provisions, Leafly’s new data will help lawmakers make the case that legalization needs to materialize quickly for the sake of American job creation, federal tax revenue, and general economic growth. But, Leafly’s report is also a stark reminder that we have lots of work to do to make certain that the cannabis industry becomes a beacon of hope for all entrepreneurs, regardless of their skin color or gender.