HR Matters for Cannabis Companies

I attended MJBiz Conference in December 2019, and I was pleasantly surprised that traditional HR practices are finding their way in the cannabis industry amid State licensing, growth, mergers and acquisitions, and unprecedented job growth. A host of experts shared their expert advice about starting and sustaining the business by using industry best practices, and HR practices will also be a major anchor to manage employees, define the culture and set performance standards. There is a significant need for companies to mitigate risks associated with hiring, discipline, engagement, performance and talent retention.

Although this news is great, compliance standardization can’t come fast enough to manage a variety of risks that come with the passing of cannabis laws across the US.  A few emerging challenges for business owners and employers are:

  • The conflict between federal and state laws about possession and use of marijuana.
  • Navigating the conflict between State government and county municipalities.
  • While cannabis States and the courts grapple with employment laws, some States limit the employer’s ability to fire an employee for failing a drug test. In some cases, employers can no longer reject candidates who test positive for marijuana.
  • More doctors are prescribing medical marijuana instead of opioids. Worker’s compensation carriers are grappling with whether to approve or deny the claim. In some cases, work comp carriers are denying or dropping coverage if the employer violates their Drug-Free Workplace policy.

Aye yai yai! 

To help cannabis businesses and employers to manage the challenges associated with cannabis, BHFL Group recommends looking at the following areas:

  • HR Desk Audit & Review. No one likes an audit, but prevention can save you millions. Which policies need to be evaluated – payroll practices, FLSA classifications, and other pay practices.
  • Hiring Practices. While the cannabis industry varies from State to State, the challenge to fine qualified talent that has the right skills is a challenge in the industry.
  • Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation. Having a solid training program and procedures for handling complaints and investigations are EEO standards for employers and reduces costly fines or settlements.
  • Employee Handbook. For the company and employees, the employee handbook provides rules, expectations, and answer questions about pay, leave, benefits, use of the Internet, discipline and consequences. A handbook review examines compliance with federal and State employment laws.

Whether you are a business owner or an employer, these HR challenges pose costly risks. For guidance to navigate the cannabis frontier, use this link to request a copy of our compliance checklist.

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