'A Gigantic Opportunity and Resource Gap': Q&A with Amber Littlejohn – Cannabis Dispensary


Shannon Price | Adobe Stock

Job growth in the cannabis sector doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

The legal cannabis industry now supports 321,000 workers in the United States, with 77,000-plus jobs created in 2020, or roughly a 32% increase across the 37 states and the District of Columbia with medical or adult-use markets, according to a report by Leafly.

While cannabis companies were not immune to layoffs and furloughs during the onset of COVID-19, as job growth experienced a lull between March and August, hiring picked back up, and many operations thrived during the pandemic. The year-over-year growth showed that the cannabis sector created jobs at a faster rate than almost any other American industry, according to Leafly.

James Yagielo, the CEO of HempStaff, a recruiting and training company based in Miami that specializes in the cannabis and hemp industries, said the 32% increase reported by Leafly did not leave him open-mouthed. 

It was not really that surprising because it was essential business, so that really narrowed down a lot of the different industries because a lot of industries are not essential,” he said. “So, I think that may have definitely skewed the numbers in cannabis’ favor. But, additionally, even though last year was a horrendous year for most people, our recruiting numbers pretty much matched 2019. We didn’t get the increase we expected, but we didn’t really get decrease either.”

When September 2020 hit, job growth picked back up in the sector, Yagielo said.

“We’ve kind of had a boom, say, post Labor Day in the cannabis industry in hiring that to [this] day is still going on,” he said. “So, while we did have that few-months lull, it really picked back up once they realized that the cannabis industry was not going to be hurt by the pandemic.”

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