US Marijuana Industry Hits All-Time High

US Marijuana Industry Hits All-Time High

The legal cannabis industry is thriving in the US, reaching its highest-ever number of jobs and sales, a new report shows.

Vangst, a cannabis industry job platform, found that at the beginning of the year, there were 440,445 full-time-equivalent jobs in the legal cannabis industry—a 5.4 percent increase from 2023. Annual sales of legal marijuana, recreational and medical, increased by 10.3 percent to $28.8 billion last year, it added.

Legal cannabis use across the U.S. has surged over the past decade, and jobs in the industry are at a high. In 2014, Colorado became the first state to legalize the sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Prior to that, the drug had been permitted for medical usage in a small number of states. Almost half of all U.S. states and territories have now approved cannabis for recreational use. But despite the liberalization of state laws, marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law.

California tops the table for the most marijuana jobs per state as of March, with 78,618 positions, Vangst reported. Michigan has 46,746 jobs in the sector, placing it second. Florida, with 30,238 jobs, ranks third—up from fourth in February 2023—despite being a medical-use-only state.

Two other states that permit cannabis only for medical use also made it into the top 15. Pennsylvania placed sixth with 23,402 positions, while Oklahoma's 11,142 jobs put it in 15th place—its first entry in the top 15.

Vangst attributed the growth to expanding markets, especially in the Midwest and along the East Coast. Michigan in particular saw "astonishing" growth throughout 2023 with sales of more than $3 billion, up 33 percent over 2022. Some 11,000 new jobs have been created thanks to the in-state boom.

In the east, cannabis markets in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have flourished. In 2022, these five states saw total revenue grow 50 to 100 percent, with more than 13,000 new jobs created, the report said.

The report added that the national 5.4 percent increase in jobs was not spread evenly throughout the legalized states. West Coast industries experienced a decline, with 15,000 jobs being lost across California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

The industry has witnessed considerable growth over the past decade. In 2017, Vangst reported, the number of jobs was 122,800, marking a near four-fold increase in seven years.

The sector took a small tumble in 2022, the report said, "when a post-pandemic sales slump coincided with investment pullback, global inflation, rising interest rates, depressed wholesale prices, and changes in consumer purchasing patterns." In its 2023 report, Vangst said new legal markets would "create thousands of new jobs," a prediction that turned out to be true.

Despite the growth, the report warned that the sector was not entirely free of problems in 2024. It said: "An oversupply of cannabis in many states is squeezing farmers, who are selling at historically low wholesale prices. Consumers are enjoying bargain-priced flower, which makes for happy shoppers but leaves retailers (and the entire supply chain) in a bind as they watch their profit margins shrink."

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Region: United States

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