The cannabis industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world. Given its prior designation as a dangerous drug, many US states (and some Canadian provinces) are nervous about its existence. When it comes to the people involved in the cannabis industry, this is no different, as there are deep employee background checks required to get a license.
But as a dispensary owner, the rules for running these background checks are tricky. Do you need to run employee background checks on new dispensary employees? Are these checks for those who handle the drugs, or do they include support staff? What states or provinces require (or don't require) them?
The answers to these questions aren't always clear. So, this article is for you if you want to demystify background checks for dispensaries. Let's dive in.
No, not all dispensaries need to run background checks on new budtenders. Typically, these background checks are required to get a cannabis career license. Running a background check is often optional in states where these checks are already required to gain the permit.
A budtender certification, alongside other state and provincial cannabis permits, includes built-in background checks. This situation often applies to those needing product knowledge, such as budtenders, managers, and owners.
By comparison, support staff might not need the same level of product knowledge. For example, bookkeepers don't need to know anything about cannabis to do their job well. However, some general knowledge might help them better categorize financial transactions.
This situation also applies to many marketers, website builders, and copywriters. These groups don't handle direct sales and customer information, so they do not need a budtender certification. However, product knowledge still benefits people in these positions, even if they don't need a certificate.
You can still work at a dispensary if you have a criminal record. However, that record generally cannot include any felony-level offenses. Felony offenses prevent you from gaining the necessary certifications to work in customer-facing and management positions at dispensaries.
If you are a dispensary owner, those certified in product-touching positions have already proven they don't have a felony conviction. You don't have to worry about double-checking state or province-certified individuals. Instead, you might check with recognized bodies on their license validity.
The support staff of a dispensary does not have the same licenses and background requirements as budtenders. So, owners performing background checks on these individuals is understandable and often necessary. Most owners do not like to hire employees with a history of criminal activity.
Many owners want to include background checks with all positions, taking the cautionary side (certification or not). This is because a background check does more than verify someone's criminal record.
A background check is performed by people, companies, and other organizations to verify someone's criminal record, education, employment history, and identity. These checks are standard when someone applies for a job, but can also occur for continued employment screening after the initial hiring.
It is wise to conduct a background check on new budtenders because it verifies more than their criminal activity. You can confirm employee claims about their education and career experience through this check. Most state or provincial certification programs don't check this information.
Because the state or province has no incentive to regulate employees' honesty, it's up to the employers to check them out. As an owner, paying for a background check is an excellent way to test a prospective employee's character. You usually don't want someone who lies about their past to join your organization, as that might be a sign of what they will conceal in the future.
As an owner, your first step in the background check process is to gain consent from the potential employee. From there, your background check needs to submit to your state for approval. Most businesses hire background check companies to expedite the process.
First, it's important to note that many types of background checks exist. Below are a few of the more common examples:
The more checks you do, the more it costs. As a result, employers are picky about what screenings they do. For example, you wouldn't pull up a person's driving history if they aren't going to drive a company vehicle.
The checks also need to make sense for the position. You wouldn't check the credit report of a budtender, even if they handle cash. These tests are better for accountants and those who manage finances. Asking for every background check, regardless of position, might be seen as invasive. Sometimes, you might break state or federal regulations through unnecessary background checks.
For example, "ban the box" prevents employers from asking about criminal history questions on an initial job application form. These policies are said to give a fair chance to applicants, regardless of previous convictions. This prevents employers from immediately throwing out a resume based on criminal history, causing them to think twice about hiring an employee.
When deciding against an employee based on their criminal record, these ban-the-box states refer to this decision as an "adverse action." When taking an adverse action (rejecting, terminating, or reassigning an employee), you need to justify this decision, provide a copy of the background check, and give the employee a rights summary of what they can do as a result of the decision.
The best software for a background check includes criminal, employment, history, education, driving, and financial history. You can keep your background checks on a single platform by getting software that provides a comprehensive solution. This feature prevents you from needing to switch between multiple services.
What shows up on a background check depends on your type of check. Any criminal or traffic check will note active or pending arrests and convictions related to a misdemeanor or felony offense. Meanwhile, other background checks might include employment history, current prescription drugs, and education.
Typically, a background check done at a dispensary will be limited to criminal history, education, and employment. Data beyond this is often unnecessary unless the employee works for a support staff that requires special permissions.
For example, lab testers must follow stringent, high-intensity requirements and use delicate equipment. As a result, taking medication that results in brain fog might not make them safe for the position. You can also say the same for driving vehicles and having a poor motor vehicle report (MVR).
A background check will generally take a minimum of two weeks. These checks can take longer when the employee has a deep, complicated background or you need to perform multiple checks. Background checks often take up to a month for hires with complex backgrounds.
We mentioned some software that can help save you some time. Regardless, their automated features can start the process earlier. Nevertheless, you'll still need to wait a while before getting most of these back.
International checks often require you to hire specialist companies. These don't fall under standard background checks, as hiring overseas can be expensive.
Once you get through these tests and determine you've found a good match, you'll want to have a detailed onboarding process, which is a big part of employee retention.
Ideally, you should get hiring and onboarding software that helps you throughout the process. This includes hiring, scheduling, interviewing, data tracking, and payroll. By handing this duty off to a system that handles it for you, you can focus on growing your business.
A great piece of software that can help you with hiring and onboarding is KayaPush. KayaPush enables you to handle dispensary hiring, interviewing, tracking, data storage, and license information to ensure you remain federally and locally compliant. This platform gives you a centralized location for all your personnel management needs.
Once you are done with any background check, you'll have to decide what to do with this information. If you find a criminal history, you might use that as a deciding factor in employment. Any dishonesty will also affect your decision on whether to hire someone new.
A comprehensive budtender onboarding checklist can help you make consistent decisions for new employment. If you decide why you won't hire someone (your dealbreakers) before you review the screening results, you can be decisive in your actions. Using software like KayaPush can help you track results and dealbreakers.
Discuss the decision-making process of hiring or declining with other business owners. A big of insight will give you the confidence to make these decisions.
But above all, be sure you follow state, provincial, and federal guidelines on employee checks — failure to comply results in some messy situations. With these tips, you can be confident in selecting the best employees.
“KayaPush has it all in one platform where you can kind of build what you need. Especially as a start-up, that’s important to us to be cost-friendly. You have the best price for what you’re offering. ”
-Marry Ann from Riverside Wellness-