The legal cannabis industry is exploding — the market is growing rapidly and job openings are multiplying daily. In other words, opportunities abound. Accepting a job in this booming industry could be a great career move, whether you’re coming straight out of college or have been gainfully employed for 25 years or more. However, because the legal cannabis industry is still a fairly new market, there are several important things those choosing to seek employment in marijuana should consider.
Primarily, potential employees should be aware that cannabis is a bit like the Wild West. With marijuana still illegal on a federal level, there is no federal oversight of the industry at all, and many state governments refuse to get involved with the industry. This can leave employees vulnerable and without many protections if things go sour.
One easy way to ensure that you’re taking a position with a good company who values and protects its employees? Asking the right questions during the interview. We’ve rounded up four questions that all potential cannabis employees should consider asking in the interview process. Read on to be sure you’re prepared.
1. How many hours does this position require a week?
The cannabis industry can feel a lot like a giant startup. And just like any startup, hours can be long and work can be demanding. While this is true of many positions in dozens of industries, the difference here is that the long hours aren’t always addressed up front. Occasionally it’s because those being interviewed don’t ask — instead, they assume they’ll be working a standard 40-hour week. Other times, it’s because hiring managers don’t address it and are trying to lock in a great candidate without scaring them away. Either way, ask up front and make sure your contract ensures that you won’t be held to unpaid overtime or unanticipated standards down the line.
2. How do you pay your employees?
Some banks and payroll companies won’t work with dispensaries. Because of the federal regulations, the money surrounding the product can be tricky, leaving many organizations unwilling to tie themselves to legal cannabis companies. As a result, some employers pay their employees in all cash without taking out any taxes. This means that there isn’t always a record of how much money you make or when you get paid. This can also mean that you have to set aside money for state and federal taxes all year long in order to avoid having to come up with money you might owe at the end of the year. While cannabis is far from the only industry to pay in cash or not take out taxes throughout the year, it’s always better to know how money and wages will be handled from the start.
3. Do you provide benefits?
Most major companies, especially those in the CPG world, provide benefits like insurance, paid time off and 401(K)s for their employees. But for reasons similar to those of the banks, some insurance companies won’t work with marijuana companies. This leaves employees without any benefits through their company, and in a scramble to find insurance coverage and retirement planning options on their own. There are dozens of reputable companies that offer these things, but again, it’s important to know before you sign a contract whether or not you’ll be needing to source these options for yourself and your family or not.
4. Is this company licensed?
Federally, marijuana is illegal. This means that companies, even reputable ones, are susceptible to raids and “cease-to-operate” orders by the federal government. Generally speaking, at this point, the federal government has allowed licensed cannabis companies to continue to conduct business as long as they’re in a state that has legalized marijuana. But they are far less tolerant of unlicensed companies, who aren’t paying their taxes and who are, essentially, operating illegally. Working for a licensed company pretty much guarantees job security as long as the company stays afloat. Working for an unlicensed company means that your job could be at risk, as the company could be shut down at any time. Ensuring your future employer is a registered business is vital in ensuring that you’re making a wise career choice.