Recently, I stumbled upon a Reddit post where a small business owner asked a question about hiring someone who worked in the legal cannabis market. I figured, it’s probably a good idea to outline what the rest of the small business owners had to say about it. In the following article, I’ll be going over some of the best answers to the question which received over 300 responses from actual business owners.
Before we begin, let’s set the context with the original question entitled, “Would you hire someone who has worked in the cannabis industry?”
A friend of mine owns a company with around 60 employees. The other day he interviewed a young woman for a position and, according to him, she seemed like she’d be a good fit. The only problem is her work history included about five years working in the legal cannabis industry in Colorado. This concerned him enough to disregard her application completely. I thought that was strange, seeing as he thought she was great otherwise.
My question for this group is would you discount a potential employee simply because they used to work for a weed company? If so, why?
As you can see, in this example the person isn’t stoned on the job nor was overtly promoting cannabis. The only infraction in this example seem to be that the young woman in question simply worked in the cannabis industry for five years.
While this response from the employer was bigoted in nature, it gave me great joy to see how other business owners responded to this situation. I personally don’t take issue with people’s past when it comes to employment. The only thing that should legitimately matter is whether or not they are going to provide a significant return on investment. A resume with cannabis experience isn’t the real issue.
This is because from an employer’s perspective, the ROI from hiring an employee should make sense. When you’re hiring someone, you want that person to achieve a few things;
Do a task that you are outsourcing (hopefully better than you can do it yourself)
Generate more revenue or time than the cost of maintaining the employee
Benefit the overall vision and mission of the company.
It’s really that simple. When you only consider these elements, then you eliminate all of the typical discriminatory factors such as race, age, sex, etc.
In fact, this is how we should all be looking at people in general – the merit of their character and whether or not the individual will add a net-benefit to our lives.
So now, let’s take a closer look at the response from other small business owners.
The #1 comment on the thread read this;
I wouldn’t ever discount legal work history. Doing so would be a bad business decision. There is nothing to gain by rejecting qualified candidates for something so irrelevant. – Brent
And it is certainly an “irrelevant point”. As another Redditor pointed out, “If the OP’s friend didn’t do the same for someone working at a bar or the pharmaceutical industry, then he’s a hypocrite.”
It seems that the employer was reasoning from a position of morality or religion as opposed to critical business performance. The fact that someone worked in the cannabis industry doesn’t make them a “bad person”, irrespective if federal laws essentially says that they are. In fact, according to the federal government a person who partakes in cannabis cannot be trusted.
This was highlighted in a recent DOJ debacle where Biden’s DOJ asked for a federal court to dismiss a case that would have set a precedent on cannabis users having access to guns.
The Department of Justice asked a federal court on Monday to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to overturn a policy blocking medical marijuana patients from buying or owning guns. The filling is partly premised on the government’s position that it would be too “dangerous to trust regular marijuana users to exercise sound judgment” with firearms.
In making its case for dismissal, DOJ also drew eyebrow-raising historical parallels to past gun bans for groups like Native Americans, Catholics, panhandlers, those who refuse to take an oath of allegiance to the government and people who shoot firearms while drunk.
I think it’s important to note that despite Biden’s “pardon” stunt, this is what his DOJ is actually thinking about cannabis users. Furthermore, the fact that they cited that “Native Americans, Catholics, and panhandlers, and those who refused to take an oath of allegiance to the government” were justification for their actions just shows how out of touch they are.
Therefore, you can’t really blame the original employer for reacting in such a bigoted way. The fact of the matter is that there is a large portion of people who are still under the impression that cannabis is “bad” due to decades long propaganda campaigns from organizations such as D.A.R.E and the likes.
Nonetheless, we can fault the original employer on the fact that he didn’t update his position after all the social changes have occurred over the past twenty years in relation to cannabis.
Another Redditor responded;
I’d go even further: there is a real argument to be made for employing skilled people who will be pointlessly disregarded by your competition.
Giving them a chance when no one else will, and treating them well down the road, will only make them more loyal to you.
The Redditor makes a good point. People that partake in cannabis and who worked in the field are always stigmatized for their involvement with the industry. Perhaps not as much these days, but the example by the Reddit post lets us know that it’s still happening.
As a result, the idea that employing skilled people who are typically shunned for real-world work experience would garner more loyalty. You want to have loyal employees that feel like they are part of your team. Giving people a chance can help build trust and loyalty from your employees – and that’s exactly what you need when you’re going through economic hardships.
You want a workforce that is willing to stick their necks out for you because they believe in your cause. Therefore, by giving someone like the “unhired employee” a chance is a great way to cultivate this kind of trust!
Another Redditor added to the conversation;
100% would hire someone who worked in the cannabis industry. It’s legal and the industry is very similar to the liquor industry which has a lot of rules and regulations to it so you know that if they didn’t get fired that they will follow the rules if it was say a cashier/budtender role, supervisor, manager. If it was marketing hell I’d say they’ve done a pretty good job with that the past couple of years as well
This is another great point. In order to keep a cannabis dispensary in operation, everyone has to follow the rule of law to the T. This means that if someone managed to navigate the space for five years consecutively, they must be good at their job. They must be someone who was able to abide by the strict guidelines set in place by the government. In other words, the person who managed to keep their job for over five years is able to follow orders and will add value to your bottom line.
This sentiment was echoed by this Redditor;
The cannabis industry is one of the most difficult and convoluted industries to navigate. If someone can be successful working in the legal cannabis industry then they can do anything. No other industry has more rules and regulations. If someone tells me they have worked in the cannabis industry they likely move to the top of the list.
As you can see, the vast majority of employers don’t take issue with hiring someone who worked in the cannabis field. In fact, some might even go as far as just hiring stoners.
I make machines for glasswork. Pretty much all glassworkers I deal with either smoke weed or grow it. They are all good people. Years ago, I made equipment for musicians. They almost all smoked or grew weed. I’ve never met a bad person involved with weed
While I have met “bad people” involved with weed – a term I typically don’t like to use when referring to anyone – the general notion of people who partake of cannabis is that they are mellow, easy to get along with, and it also seems that they are “fitter” if we judge BMI.
Additionally, cannabis users tend to take fewer sick days. This was best illustrated in a Drug Policy Alliance blog post;
States where marijuana is legal have fewer employees calling in sick, a new study published in the journal Health Economics found. Businesses included in the survey reported an 8 to 15 percent decline in sickness absenteeism following legalization.
“Utilizing the Current Population Survey, the study identifies that absences due to sickness decline following the legalization of medical marijuana,” Darren Ullman, the lead author of the study, wrote. “The effect is stronger in states with ‘lax’ medical marijuana regulations, for full-time workers, and for middle-aged males, which is the group most likely to hold medical marijuana cards.”
Of course, let’s not fall victim to the “cause vs correlation” debate, however, it is interesting that states with more lax medical marijuana laws do see more productive workers as they take fewer sick days. Additionally, the fact that someone worked in the cannabis industry doesn’t mean that they smoke weed. This is a major misconception that some people entertain.
Furthermore, if they are using marijuana for medical reasons – then in all likeliness “not consuming cannabis” would be more detrimental to their ability to work, which would directly impact your ability to get a good ROI on hiring the person.
The Sticky Bottom line
There’s a reason why Amazon is lobbying for cannabis legalization. The fact of the matter is that more people will be smoking cannabis over the next few years and cannabis consumption prohibits people from finding employment, it means that employers will have a smaller talent pool to choose from. This in turn will mean lower returns and limited options.
It’s good to know however, that small business owners overwhelmingly do not care about whether the person working for them has any past experience in the cannabis field. Let’s destigmatize cannabis use and begin to treat people on an individual level.
For some this might be hard. Years of programming means that they “believe” a non-truth as their truth, and this is why you will still see this type of reaction. However, over the next 10-20 years, these reasons should fade from the fabric of society altogether.