Find the Right Employees for Your Cannabis Business: A Manager’s Hiring Checklist

Cannabis business owners and operators face a hiring challenge that is two-fold. First, finding the right employees who are passionate about the industry is an ongoing struggle, and second, the industry continues to be highly regulated in all aspects of owning and operating a cannabis business. Recruiting and hiring comes with its own set rules, regulations, and laws, and not following them often result in penalties. Fortunately, there are many opportunities in the hiring process to increase the chances of finding the right employees, while also complying with hiring laws. Use the following checklist to improve your recruiting process and to hire employees legitimately and legally.

OROleafhr provides their clients with checklists meant to serve as general guide for hiring managers, cannabis business owners, and cannabis business operators that seem to help find the right employees. Try some or all of the checklist items and see if the process works for you.

A Manager’s Hiring Checklist

Review your state’s hiring requirements.
In some states, a new hire may need an employee license or badge, a completed job application, and a background check conducted. There is also a different set of regulations for dispensary employees compared to those who will be “touching the plant.” Review and follow all regulations to stay compliant.

Define your ideal employee. Before you start writing or posting an ad, know what you’re looking for in a new employee and jot down their characteristics. For a budtrimmer for example, you may desire someone with a passion for the industry who is also detail oriented and punctual.

Make your company attractive. What would make a new hire want to work for your business. Do you offer competitive benefits or perks? Do you offer paid training? Do you have a great culture? The competition is fierce, so be prepared to promote your company, in addition to the job role.

Offer a competitive salary. Compensation must commensurate with job responsibilities, experience, and must be competitive. Do some industry research on sites like and review competitor job postings for inspiration. If you don’t offer a competitive salary, you likely won’t be able to hire the most loyal, diligent workers. You get what you pay for.

Create a robust job description. Make sure it speaks to your ideal employee. Include your company description, desired employee characteristics, job goals and responsibilities, skills and requirements, and benefits and compensation.

Look within your company for talent. Consider internal employees for open positions. Not only will you be providing a career advancement opportunity for an employee, but you don’t have to worry about onboarding a new employee.

Post available jobs to several channels. Use social media and cannabis-friendly job platforms like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Glassdoor to post job ads. Leverage association memberships like the National Association of Cannabis Businesses to advertise. Consider posting ads where similar job skills exist, e.g. for marketing positions, consider the American Marketing Association.

Create an attractive careers page. Having a great careers page gives potential applicants a look into your business. They can learn what kind of people they will be working with, what the company looks like on the inside, and the perks for working there. Have a community service day? Celebrate special occasions? Post videos and photos to this page to share the human side of the business.

Expand your talent pool. While it may be ideal to hire someone with experience in the cannabis industry, sometimes it’s difficult to recruit them. Consider recruiting experienced professionals from other industries that transfer easily into the cannabis industry, such as retail, manufacturing, agriculture, and food and beverage.

Put together a hiring team. It’s always a good idea to have input and feedback from others during the hiring process. Consider having the hiring manager, a supervisor or senior lead, and an HR professional as part of the hiring process.

Involve your staff. You want to make sure your new hire is a good fit for your culture and can elevate the team dynamic. Have the team meet the candidates and ask for their feedback during the hiring process.

Make qualified candidates a priority. How candidates are treated during the hiring process is often a reflection of the general work environment. Failing to be attentive or responsive to qualified candidates at any point may cause them to believe they are not a priority, and they will likely seek employment elsewhere.

Ask the right questions in the interview. The interview is a critical part of the hiring process. You can easily learn whether or not the employee is passionate about the industry and if they want to grow with your business. Ask questions like: Why do you want to work here? How do you stay up to date on the cannabis industry? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Conduct a pre-employment screening. When you have a potential new hire, conduct a pre-employment screening. It helps uncover red flags and protects your business from hiring individuals with criminal records, which can get your business into legal trouble otherwise.

Properly verify and classify employees. Make sure all new hires complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form to verify the employees’ identity and their authorization to work in the United States. Properly classify all employees according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Federally audited companies that neglect employee verification and proper classification could face consequences.

Overcoming the Hiring Challenge

The hiring process has several different layers, and for the cannabis industry it proves even more challenging. If your business doesn’t have a dedicated human resources team to tackle all of the tasks or responsibilities that surround hiring employees, you risk having a revolving door of candidates and new hires. You also risk falling out of compliance with the hiring standards that exist in the industry.

To best overcome the hiring challenge of finding top talent and abide by cannabis laws, it’s recommended to work with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) like OROleafhr. We will offload your HR administration and manage your hiring process to recruit and retain the best employees. Moreover, we work specifically with cannabis businesses and are knowledgeable in hiring laws and regulations to keep your business compliant at all times. Hire the best workforce. Remain compliant. Contact us.

Learn how to improve your entire recruiting process. Download our newest ebook on How to Attract & Recruit Cannabis Employees and learn the best practices for finding top talent for your growing business.

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