The Cannabis Industry Now Supports More Than 440,000 Full-Time Jobs

As the 2024 elections draw near, the economic impact of cannabis legalization will likely become a prominent topic in political discourse. With billions in total sales, and millions in tax revenue, the economic benefits of legal cannabis are clear. Beyond the monetary gains, there is a crucial aspect of the cannabis industry that should not be overlooked: job creation.

The 2024 Cannabis Jobs Report by Vangst reveals that over 440,000 jobs have been generated in states with legal cannabis, marking a 5.4% increase in the past year alone. This growth not only signifies economic stability, but it also highlights the industry’s resilience in recovering from past job losses. As new markets like Missouri contribute to this job surge, the report underscores the varying dynamics of job creation across different states.

The economic benefits of legal cannabis

When discussing the economic benefits of fully legalizing cannabis, total retail sales and related tax revenue are usually discussed, and rightfully so. Forbes estimates that the regulated U.S. cannabis industry will be worth $46 billion in 2028, and will surpass alcohol sales in some counties. Even in more remote and less populous states, cannabis has brought in millions in retail sales and tax revenue. In Maine for instance, cannabis sales reached $217 million in 2023. Missouri, despite a population of roughly six million, was the sixth largest market of all the states with legal cannabis in 2023. Missouri topped $1 billion during its first year of recreational sales.

Recovery and growth

One partial reason identified by the Vangst Report for the dramatic increase in 2023 cannabis jobs, is that the cannabis industry experienced a loss of around 10,500 jobs from 2022 to 2023. Not only were industry businesses actively creating new roles for prospective employees by the thousands in 2023, they were recovery from job loses in previous years.

State-by-state analysis

Per the Vangst Report, of the top nine states for cannabis job growth, three saw increases of over 100 percent; and none of those states had legal cannabis before 2018. One of those states, Utah, experienced job growth of around 16 percent, even though it is still a strictly regulated medical-only market. Even more surprisingly, Utah is the only state that could even be considered “West Coast” among the top nine.

Interestingly and worryingly, the eight states to experience the most staggering job losses all legalized cannabis at least a decade ago. On top of the mountain of issues that the California cannabis industry is facing, the Golden State experienced the highest number of job losses in the past year. Neighboring state, Nevada, despite attracting more than 40 million tourists a year, experienced a seven percent drop in its cannabis job numbers. Colorado and Washington — the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012 — experienced the highest percentage of job loss by far, at 16 and 15 percent respectively.

Future projections

Vangst estimates that anywhere from 7,500 to 45,000 cannabis industry jobs could be created in Ohio in the next few years. Out East, with Maryland recently awarding 75 more retail cannabis licenses, the number of jobs created in that state will almost certainly increase. Overall, the Vangst Report hypothesizes another wildly successful year for cannabis sales:

“In 2023 our legal revenue forecast of $29.2 billion came in at $28.8 billion (98.3% accuracy). This year we’re looking for 9.1% growth, with sales increasing to $31.4 billion. By 2030, we predict this will grow to $67.2 billion as more states legalize and more consumers participate. That growth will create more jobs, more wages, more taxes, and more ancillary support. Despite the challenges, this seems like a good problem to have as an industry.”


As the cannabis industry continues to evolve and expand, its economic contributions are becoming increasingly significant– particularly in terms of job creation and tax revenue. Job growth underscores the industry’s resilience and potential to create economic opportunities, even as older markets face challenges.

As the 2024 elections approach, policymakers and politicians need to recognize the multifaceted economic benefits of cannabis legalization, including job creation.