Despite the fact that the legal cannabis market supports at least 122,000 full-time jobs nationwide, the federal government is not acknowledging that it employs even one person. With a new self-proclaimed anti-marijuana Attorney General about to be put into office next week, the fact that the cannabis industries benefits are not being reported or even sought by the federal government is somewhat disturbing.
What might be the best data yet on cannabis jobs was compiled and released by Leafly this week. Researchers there checked state by state and found that there are at least 122,814 full-time jobs supported by the legal cannabis industry. Leafly includes farmers, botanists, extraction artists, engineers who build extraction equipment, and even the staff of their own website, among many others, in their count.
While these researchers went through painstaking legwork to compile this data, they found that the federal government is not even attempting to do the same. The North American Industry Classification System, the standard tool for classifying businesses, does not even have a code to classify a marijuana business with. This might have something to do with the fact that cannabis is considered a controlled substance at the federal level, but so are Vicodins and it’s a safe bet that Abbvie, the pharmaceutical company responsible for manufacturing the painkiller, probably has a an NAICS classification.
Leafly’s estimate should probably be considered conservative, as the site had to combine a hodgepodge of different kinds of statistics state by state, and there are likely some companies that, while legal, are not on the books in whatever database they looked in.
As far as the state counts go, California was found to be the top cannabis employer, supporting 43,374 jobs (that number should be expected to explode as legalization takes effect). Colorado and Washington came in second and third with 23,407 and 22,952 jobs respectively. Of all states with measurable cannabis employment, Hawaii supplied the fewest, barely qualifying with a mere 48 jobs (New Hampshire and Florida didn’t do much better).
Cannabis was also found to be dominating some markets. Leafly ranked it as the second largest commodity of Washington state, second only to apples.