Florida added the greatest number of full-time cannabis jobs in 2018 nationwide and will likely do so again in 2019, according to Leafly, a global marijuana business website.
Leafly documents that there were 1,290 direct full-time jobs in the state’s medical cannabis industry at the end of 2017.
By January 2019, it maintains there were 10,358 Floridians employed in 14 state-licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) and in nearly 90 dispensaries statewide, adding more than 9,000 full-time jobs as cannabis employment grew by 703 percent in 2018 in the Sunshine State, which legalized medical marijuana in 2016.
“In Florida, the buildout of the state’s medical marijuana industry produced an enormous hiring boom,” Leafly states. “That hiring surge was spurred in part by a near-tripling of Florida’s medical marijuana patient population, which grew from roughly 65,000 to 165,000 in 12 months.”
Leafly projects Florida’s cannabis employment will increase by another 50 percent, to 15,494 jobs, in 2020.
According to the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), on Dec. 28, 2018, there were 167,211 patients with medical marijuana ID cards, 1,917 physicians qualified to prescribe medical marijuana and 86 dispensaries statewide.
Nearly a year later, the OMMU’s Nov. 22 weekly update states that there are 287,196 Floridians with medical marijuana ID cards, 2,594 physicians qualified to prescribe medical marijuana and an even 200 dispensaries statewide.
Between April 2018 and April 2019, Leafly notes, Florida’s MMTC license holders opened 85 dispensaries, an average of 1.6 dispensaries a week.
That pace has actually increased since, especially after lawmakers – under pressure from Gov. Ron DeSantis – lifted the prohibition on smokable medical marijuana in March.
Florida voters approved medical marijuana in a 2016 constitutional amendment that passed by 70 percent. The program, however, has been mired in organization dysfunction, lawsuits and the state’s GOP-controlled legislature, which imposed among other restrictions the ban on smokable flower and its requirement that only “vertically integrated” operators – meaning “seed-to-sale” – can participate in the new market.
According to some analysts, Florida’s medical marijuana industry is expected to generate about $250 million in sales in 2019 and an estimated $1.3 billion annually by 2021 and $5.7 billion in a decade.
The projections do not include estimated revenues that could be generated if either of two prospective 2020 ballot measures seeking to legalize recreational marijuana are adopted – particularly the "Make It Legal" proposal which would basically retain the current MMTC system.
As of August 2019, according to Leafly, legal cannabis businesses employed 211,000 full-time workers across the country, a number made difficult to identify because the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not chart the industry because cannabis remains federally illegal.
According to Forbes and Leafly, the marijuana industry added 64,000 jobs nationwide in 2018 and is expected to create another 20,000 this year in just California and Florida.
“That’s enough people to fill Chicago’s Soldier Field, with 3,000 more tailgating outside,” the report states in documenting a 110 percent growth in cannabis jobs nationwide in the last just three years.
“The cannabis workforce increased 21 percent in 2017. It gained another 44 percent in 2018,” Leafly states. “We expect at least another 20 percent growth in jobs in 2019. That would represent a 110 percent growth in cannabis jobs in just three years.”
In addition to the 9,000 new jobs created in Florida in 2018, Nevada added more than 7,500 jobs during that same year, Pennsylvania added nearly 3,900 and New York grew its cannabis employment by 278 perecent, ending 2018 with more than 5,000 jobs.