However, many companies are hitting a wall when it comes to finding the right employees for dispensary jobs. Some applicants are being rejected because of thorough background checks that would typically not affect employment in a more conventional line of work, and others are unemployable simply because they do not meet a series of state-mandated prerequisites necessary for employment in a dispensary setting. Some dispensary hiring managers have even received “interesting résumés that have people admitting they’ve committed felonies or weren’t caught committing felonies,” said Evan Nison, founder and owner of NisonCo., a public relations firm devoted to the pot industry. Situations like these often result in dispensary owners being unable to hire those with previous experience growing and selling marijuana.
Another major issue facing dispensaries comes in the form of payroll challenges, which is due to the fact that marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug, placing it on the same tier as substances like heroin and LSD. Even though eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized weed, the federal government still views it as highly illegal. This prevents banks from working with dispensaries, although restrictions are slowly being lifted. Workers are often paid in cash, which can be dangerous for these dispensaries and their employees. Entrepreneurs like Peterson are now attempting to create products which would allow banks and credit unions to administer electronic payroll alternatives that would allow dispensaries to pay employees through means such as direct deposit. Peterson believes that the solution to dispensary payroll lies in strict compliance direction and the ability to “communicate changing regulations clearly and automatically” to customers.
While legal marijuana is still a highly contentious issue, HR professionals can provide various benefits to the industry through compliance regulation. “There’s a real opportunity for the HR world to take part in this industry,” said Peterson. “People and workforce management are at the forefront of this industry and it wouldn’t happen without that.”
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