As the cannabis industry continues to expand to new states, cannabis jobs are emerging nationwide. Last year, we were excited to see a spike in cannabis jobs in states like Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida, and Illinois. This year, we’re taking a look at states that have become key players in adding new jobs to the economy.
California, Colorado, and Florida continue to lead the nation in the highest number of total cannabis jobs… There are more people employed in the cannabis industry in CA, CO, and FL than in any other state.
But something else to consider is… Which states added the most cannabis jobs to the economy. States that added the most jobs are currently showing the rapid industry growth.
States that added a high number of cannabis jobs are playing a pivotal role in economic growth. As the industry continues to rapidly emerge in new states, job opportunities are appearing, and much-needed tax revenue is coming in… It could be exactly what’s needed for our nation’s economic recovery (2).
The 8 states that added the most cannabis jobs to the economy:
According to Leafly’s 2020 Job Report, over 77,000 cannabis jobs were added in the United States during 2020. These are the states that added the most jobs to the economy (4):
Colorado didn’t add as many jobs in 2020. But The Centennial state continues to lead the industry with the highest per capita sales — the most sales in comparison to Coloradoans (4). Cannabis continues to be Colorado’s strongest economic success story in comparison to other industries. While the number of jobs added was lower than all of the states listed above, Colorado had a 29% year-over increase in cannabis sales (4). CO brought in $350 million in state tax revenue (4).
In 2020, Colorado added 4,338 jobs to the market, totaling 35,539 jobs, with sales reaching $2.28 billion (4).
Marijuana Business Daily reports that vertically integrated cannabis companies have had long lines at their dispensaries (7). And the stats back it up. Before adult-use stores were opened this past January 2021, the medical sales were over $1 billion (4). With such high demand after the adult-use market opened up, there’s fear that the supply won’t keep up with the demand. What we do know is that jobs are being added and it’s helping Arizona’s economy. Arizona is following closely behind the top three states (CA, CO, and FL) for the most cannabis jobs.
In 2020, Arizona added 5,648 jobs to the market, totaling 20, 728 jobs, with sales reaching $1.03 billion (4).
Oklahoma’s medical cannabis 2020 sales more than doubled the 2019 sales with a 131% annual gain (4). This means that the state brought in $71.6 million in both local and state taxes during 2020, that’s $41 million more than in 2019 (5). This helped the Oklahoma’s economy big time!
In 2020, Oklahoma added 6,237 jobs to the market, totaling 16,759 jobs, with sales reaching $808 million (4).
Pennsylvania is a medical-only state, but it has some of the highest numbers of medical patients. After the medical cannabis market rolled out in Pennsylvania, it quickly became a mature market and is still functioning well (6).
Pennsylvania saw over 100,000 new patients get added to the registry, going from about 175,000 patients to about 275,000 patients (4). This spike in medical cannabis patients led to a spike in cannabis job growth.
In 2020, Pennsylvania added 7,188 jobs to the market, totaling 15,895 jobs, with sales reaching $810 million (4).
Last year, Illinois was predicted to easily reach $600 million in cannabis sales (8). Which would have been just under double its 2019 sales. Well, Illinois did $1.03 billion in cannabis sales which is nearly double the sales that were predicted! (4)
What’s next for Illinois? Opening more stores to meet the demand, and opening cannabis businesses that are minority-owned (3). The current system has been excluding minorities in opportunities for licenses and it’s been a huge problem for those hit hardest by the War on Drugs.
Illinois follows closely behind Michigan for the total number of jobs and the number of jobs added during 2020. In 2020, Illinois added 8,348 jobs to the market, totaling 16,837 jobs, with sales reaching $1.03 billion (4).
Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma came in close with (4):
- The number of jobs added to the market
- The total number of cannabis jobs
- Total sales in 2020.
At the end of 2019, Michigan opened its first adult-use dispensaries. This led the cannabis sales in 2020 to nearly double from what it was during 2019 — a medical-only year. Not only did the revenue almost double from 2019 to 2020, but the number of cannabis jobs did too (4,8).
In 2020, Michigan added 9,216 jobs to the market, totaling 18,078 jobs, with sales reaching just under $1 billion, coming in at $990 million (4).
In 2019, the cannabis industry in Florida saw 93% year-over growth because of the lifted ban on smokeable flower (8). This lift led the market to continue at a steady increase during 2020.
The number of medical patients went from just over 300,000 in 2019 to about 470,000 medical patients in 2020 (4,8). Florida is the second state behind California that added the highest number of jobs to the legal cannabis market. Recreational cannabis isn’t even legal there yet and they’re not too far behind Colorado in the number of cannabis jobs (more on Colorado below).
In 2020, Florida added 14,891 jobs to the market, totaling 31,444 jobs, with sales reaching over $1.2 billion (4).
Within the cannabis community, sometimes there’s a question on whether the illicit market will continue to persevere… But California has shown us that cannabis consumers are continuing to steadily transition to the legal market, despite high tax rates (1). This steady migration means that both legal cannabis sales and the number of cannabis jobs continue to increase.
In 2020, California added 23,707 new jobs to the market, totaling 57, 970 jobs, with sales reaching over $3.7 billion (4).
States to keep your eye on
While these states didn’t make our top eight list, keep your eye on New Jersey and New York for cannabis job growth. These markets are just beginning to bud and are still in their infancy. But we predict that adult-use in New Jersey and New York will have them following closely behind Pennsylvania’s economic growth in no time.
With the legalization in New York and New Jersey, it won’t be long before Pennsylvania follows suit. We predict if Pennsylvania legalizes adult-use their economy will continue to flourish… Especially with their successful medical program. The tri-state area will be a Northeast powerhouse.
Where should I look for cannabis jobs?
All of the states listed above are prime real estate for finding a cannabis job. Other states that are rapidly growing and adding jobs are Washington, Oregon, and Arizona (4).
If you want to look for cannabis jobs not located in one of the states we’ve profiled, take a look at your local cannabis laws to see what opportunities may be available to you. You can also check out our article on How To Find Your New Job in the Cannabis Industry for tips on how to get started.
Pre-register now for our Virtual Talent Conference Summer Breakout 2021! This event will be a unique hybrid event with in-person sessions in cities across the country, and a virtual stage for a global audience to tune in and discover opportunities in the cannabis industry.