by: Bill Wednieski
I frequently write about cannabis and the work our firm The Headhunters, LLC does in this space. I love this industry and what’s not to love? Legitimate cannabis jobs are on fire with how fast they are growing, and no other industry has so many unique characters. Still, the industry needs some rails before bad things happen to both employees and employers alike. All the same employment laws apply in cannabis too! I’ve seen lawsuits firsthand from clients and candidates. Employment lawsuits are terrible for owners, and hard on the employees that bring them. These lawsuits can take a very long time to resolve, are time consuming, plus they are often not as lucrative as the employees think.
Getting High on the Job and Seth Rogen
One of my screening questions when I recruit mainstream candidates into cannabis like accountants, HR professionals and supply chain specialists is, “How would you feel if your boss was high while talking to you?” If reading this sounds shocking, then my guess is you’re uninitiated in cannabis. There are a number or cannabis owners and leaders that regularly use cannabis throughout the (business) day. If I know the owners I am working with are heavy cannabis users, then it would be irresponsible of me to not to ask a candidate this question.
The very funny famous movie actor and director Seth Rogen openly admits he is high pretty much all the time. And, Seth Rogen has no problem if the people working on his movies are high as long as they get their work done. Most of the growers I work with and recruit are users, and frankly infatuated with growing terrific weed. It makes perfect sense, right? Environmental, health, and safety practices make sense too no matter what industry you work in. So, let’s use some common sense and agree that it’s NOT a good idea to be high while up on a ladder or using mobile equipment.
In a shout out to my colleagues in the SHRM community – cannabis business owners, do you have an employee handbook? What is your policy for using cannabis during work hours? Do you enforce that policy? From time-to-time I have meetings with the leadership of a cannabis company at their cultivation facility. During breaks I see groups of workers smoking and vaping – it could be tobacco they’re smoking but I’ve speculated many of them are using cannabis. That same employer keeps compensation fair for the cultivation people by “bonusing out” up to one ounce of cannabis trim per month per worker. The rationale is that the dispensary budtenders earn substantial cash tips so this practice evens things out to prevent compensation inequities.
What’s a Fall-Off?
A fall-off in the recruiting world is an awful thing. Recruiters generally offer a guarantee that candidates will stick – 90 days is pretty standard. If the candidate quits or sucks and gets fired then the recruiter replaces the candidate or returns the recruiting fee. A couple of months ago, I had a second fall-off ten months removed from the first fall-off for a professional position in cannabis. The events had even more in common: both involved the candidates being drunk on the job, both highly intelligent degreed people with high GPAs from prominent Big 10 universities and academic programs. The second candidate was a highly technical woman that was not even a user of cannabis and had over ten years of experience at world class companies. She really had her shit together and even dressed nicely in business casual clothing when everybody else wore jeans and t-shirts. I had lunch with my candidate to check-in during her second week to see how things were going. She was over the moon excited, and absolutely loved what she was doing. A few days later she showed up late, drunk, at the wrong location and could not remember the code to get in the door. What are the chances this happens twice, at the same employer, same role, same university, same academic program and high GPA professionals?
Crain’s Detroit Business issued a fact that even surprised me about drug testing as a requirement for job applicants. Michigan job applicants test positive for banned substances, including cannabis, 5.8% of the time vs. the national average of 4.4%. The takeaway? Treat a cannabis industry role just like any other, especially in Michigan.