As more and more states legalize marijuana, job opportunities in the cannabis industry are expanding rapidly. However, anyone interested in this type of employment should carefully research the laws and regulations governing this industry in their state, city, and county. Rules can be complex and change frequently. If you have any questions about legal compliance, you may want to consult an attorney who regularly assists cannabis employees and businesses.
Employees can work at any stage in the production and distribution of marijuana products. For example, they can help grow plants, process raw cannabis materials into consumer products, package or transport products, manage cannabis dispensaries, or sell products to consumers. While some jobs involve providing marijuana for medical purposes, others focus on recreational use. To get a job in the cannabis industry, an applicant usually must be at least 21 years old and must pass a background check that will look into their criminal record. Certain types of felony convictions may be disqualifying, such as some recent drug offenses or violent crimes.
Special Concerns for Workers in the Cannabis Industry
People employed in the cannabis industry may receive substantial job benefits. However, working at a marijuana business can trigger concerns that do not arise in most other areas of employment. Employees should be aware that they may face criminal charges if they fail to carefully navigate the regulations that govern their activities. Many rules are technical and precise, leaving little margin for error. Meanwhile, cannabis businesses may be required to close abruptly if they violate a regulation, leaving an employee without a job through no fault of their own.
Immigration Consequences for Cannabis Employees
Foreign nationals who hope to ultimately become US citizens may want to think twice before working in the cannabis industry. This job record could undermine a citizenship application.
Some job applicants in the cannabis industry expect a lax attitude toward drug use on the job, due to the nature of the business. Despite this stereotype, employees should not assume that workplace policies related to drug use and smoking are made to be broken. To the contrary, some employers may take extra care to enforce these rules to minimize compliance concerns and present a clean image. People who are looking for jobs in the cannabis industry, moreover, should aim to work at a business that sets clear policies and ensures that employees follow them. A workplace lacking in discipline and accountability is a workplace where violations that could lead to sanctions or a shutdown are more likely to occur.
Financing a cannabis business can be challenging because traditional sources of funding, such as banks, are often not available. A business may rely on cash for its operations, which is more tenuous and can result in delayed or incomplete payments to employees. Handling large amounts of cash also can expose employees to theft and other dangerous situations.
Some Things Stay the Same
Although marijuana is illegal under federal law, employees of cannabis businesses are still protected against discrimination and harassment. Moreover, workers’ compensation benefits are provided by states. Employees who are injured on the job in the cannabis industry should not face extra obstacles in claiming these benefits.