February 16, 2021 – Jobs in the state-licensed cannabis industry rose 32 percent during the past 12 months, and the industry now employs over 321,000 full-time workers, according to data compiled by Leafly.com.

Cannabis sales similarly reached all-time highs in 2020, bringing in record levels of tax revenue. “During a year that saw many sectors of the American economy constrict, we witnessed historic economic growth in the legal cannabis industry,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “The dramatic rise in the number of players participating in the state-legal cannabis space, and in total sales, is a result of more consumers transitioning from the illicit market to the above-ground legal marketplace. As more legal markets come on board and mature, consumers are going to continue gravitate toward it and away from the underground marketplace.”

According to its 2021 report, the regulated cannabis industry added approximately 78,000 new jobs over the past year. Authors of the report acknowledged that the industry’s increased growth was especially notable because it occurred in “a year marked by a global pandemic, spiking unemployment, and economic recession. … Outside the cannabis industry, the US economy shrank by 3.5 percent, the unemployment rate almost doubled, and nearly 10 million Americans saw their jobs disappear.”

To put the 2021 job totals in perspective, authors write: “In the United States there are more legal cannabis workers than electrical engineers. There are more legal cannabis workers than EMTs and paramedics. There are more than twice as many legal cannabis workers as dentists.”

States adding the greater number of new cannabis-related jobs were California (23,707 jobs), Florida (14,891 jobs), Michigan (9,216 jobs), and Illinois (8,348 jobs). Overall, the total number of full-time jobs in the licensed cannabis industry has risen nearly three-fold since 2017.

Read the full 2021 report here.

NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of marijuana by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use marijuana responsibly no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for marijuana-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.

Find out more at norml.org and read our Fact Sheets on the most common misconceptions and myths regarding reform efforts around the country.