Growing a talented team for your cannabis business can be an exciting process, while also simultaneously being one of the most stressful. Whether your cannabis operation is expanding across state lines or building a new cultivation or opening a new dispensary, the addition of fresh talent can bring new energy, perspective, and capability.

As the hiring manager, there is a level of responsibility necessary to ensure your new hire has a smooth onboarding process and that your company meets cannabis compliance requirements. The HR Business Partner (HRBP) team at Wurk has put together five useful cannabis new hire compliance tips and onboarding best practices to keep in mind when growing your workforce.

Accuracy and Timeliness of the New Hire I-9 Form

Used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the US, the I-9 Form is a crucial step for new hire onboarding. One of the most common oversights employers make is not completing the I-9 Form within three business days from the hire date (first day of work). Although this seems like a small step in the onboarding process, by not submitting it on time, or incorrectly completing the form, your cannabis business can face fines.

The form can be confusing, so be mindful of what fields are required and double-check for completion before submitting. Also, remember to update an employee’s I-9 Form if their name changes as a result of a life change event, such as marriage for example.

Should you need further inspiration to address I-9 Forms timely and accurately, take a look at how fines can accumulate over time (

Communication of Cannabis Job Description

Job descriptions outline the essential functions of the job, expectations, and in some cases, characteristics for success. They clearly communicate to candidates the talent you need at your cannabis operation, helping to filter out those that may not be a good fit.

By including job functions in the description, the process of providing reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities (as required by some state and federal laws) can be more manageable.

Ensure your new employee signs the job description, acknowledging their understanding and acceptance of the position. This process is made simple with a cannabis hiring solution.

Employee Handbook Review and Sign Off

An Employee Handbook is a vital document for every marijuana organization to have on file. The handbook provides guidelines and communicates expectations to employees, while offering legal coverage for the company. From employee orientation and time management, to policy and procedures, to effectively communicating company culture, your team will be grateful to have this resource during onboarding and throughout their employment.

Again, be sure to have new hires sign off that they have read and understand your Cannabis Employee Handbook. This helps to serve as proof that the employee received the Handbook and is responsible for knowing the information, which will be useful when addressing legal disputes and violations of company policies.

Proper Classification of Employees

There are many different classifications to consider when hiring, such as classifying a worker as an independent contractor or an employee. Accurate classification is important because this determines whether an employer must withhold income taxes, pay social security, Medicare taxes and unemployment tax on wages paid.

Additionally, all employees must be designated as either nonexempt or exempt under state and federal wage and hour laws:

Nonexempt employees are employees whose work is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). They are not exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA, and therefore, are entitled to overtime pay when working over 40 hours in a workweek. Nonexempt employees may be paid on a salary or hourly basis.

Exempt employees are generally executives, managers, professional, administrative or outside sales staff who are exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA. Exempt employees hold jobs that meet the standards and criteria established under the FLSA by the U.S. Department of Labor. In most cases, exempt employees must be paid on a salary basis.

Awareness of State-Specific Labor Regulations

As with cannabis law, labor law can differ greatly from state-to-state. Stay informed by opting-in to your local and state labor agencies to receive regulatory updates. Leverage a great cannabis HR services team to help reduce risk of non-compliance and ease workforce management stress.

Here are some examples of unique state labor laws that may affect your business:

  • Certain states require state-specific notices to be given and / or signed by employees at time of hire. California requires many of these, one example is a “Notice to Employee” (Wage Theft Protection Act Notice).
  • Some states require sick time and have specific guidelines for roll-over / front-load or accrual-based time off. Some states even have cities within that state that have their own sick time requirements that can differ from the state requirements.
  • Several legal cannabis states have different requirements for employee marijuana badges, allowing the individual to work in the industry. It is important to know your state laws on badging (Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division requires a badge, for example), and what type of badge might be required for your employee. Cannabis software from Wurk can help you remain in compliance by tracking expiration dates of these badges.
  • Your state may require you to provide paid family and medical leave to eligible employees, an offering that may require payroll withholdings, notices to employees and quarterly contributions (Massachusetts new Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) law).

Managing the growth of your workforce should be exciting, not burdensome. By implementing standard HR processes and understanding compliance requirements, you can tackle new hire onboarding with ease. If you think you might need additional guidance, feel free to chat with our team about dedicated cannabis managed services for your business.