Labor Day 2021 – the unofficial end of summer. It is also good timing for us to review two aspects of cannabis labor and employment: 1) The Cannabis jobs market, and 2) new practices and laws for employers to test cannabis in one’s system as it relates to employment.


Cannabis Job Market

In the words of the musical group Timbuk 3, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” Employment in the cannabis industry shows very strong growth which is a very positive note for the U.S. economy.

According to analysis from the 2021 MJBizFactbook, the marijuana industry will employ 340,000-415,000 full-time equivalent workers across the United States in 2021 and grow to 545,000-600,000 by 2025.The jobs numbers include staff directly employed by cannabis businesses, as well as employees of ancillary companies that support the cannabis industry. The most jobs will be driven by retail needs. (Source)

The cannabis industry is nascent and is changing day after day. It requires people with business passion and commitment driving the industry forward, not just cannabis passion.

Here are some sources for employment opportunities in the cannabis industry:








Cannabis Usage and Employment

If cannabis is legal (medical or recreational) in a state, can employers still mandate disciplinary actions (including termination and pre-employment screening) for the presence of THC in one’s body?

Simple answer – it is complicated. The complexity lies in the gray area between federal and state laws. Not every employee in a state where cannabis has been legalized is entitled to the protections of that state’s laws. For example, “the U.S. Department of Transportation continues to prohibit the use of Schedule I drugs, including cannabis (THC), by employees in safety‐sensitive positions for any reason, even if the person has received a lawful medical license for cannabis in the state in which they reside.” 

And contradicting the scenario above, it might be different in the state of New York. New York law protects an employee “from any adverse action or job discrimination based on the legal use of consumable products, including cannabis (provided the employee is not impaired at work, and such use occurs outside of working hours and off employer property).” Thus, personal consumption of cannabis outside of the workplace is an employee’s right without facing any repercussions. 

Drug testing for cannabis use during employment is also in a gray area. In the past, when cannabis was illegal in all states, an employer could dictate urine tests as a pre-employment and ongoing employment requirement. They could terminate an employee for the detection of THC. Urine testing can not accurately determine whether an individual is under the influence of THC at a specific time. It only determines whether the employee used cannabis in the past couple days or even weeks. There is no current method of scientifically testing whether one is under the influence of THC at a given moment.

We can expect to see company policies change as it relates to the use of cannabis. (Note Amazon’s change in policy.) Given that personal use of cannabis and HR policies are not black and white, we can expect to see errors made. Employers must review and update their policies to ensure they are consistent with the evolving laws applicable to all regions in which they operate. 

For reference, here are some state by state rules as they relate to cannabis for employers.


The legalization of cannabis is putting many employment issues in flux! We see most positive outcomes as it relates to the economy and new jobs. We see challenging scenarios as it relates to personal use and employee rights. The cannabis industry is in its infancy and will continue to undergo massive change!