Hiring for Your Cannabis Business: What You Need to Know

As the October 17th date for the legalization of cannabis in Canada grows nearer, steps are actively being taken by producers, prospective retailers, and the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (“AGLC”) to ensure that they are adequately prepared for business.

The AGLC recently announced that it has selected 13 licensed producers from which it will purchase cannabis for wholesale to Alberta retailers, beginning on October 17th. It has also begun preparations for online sales through its website albertacannabis.org.

As business ramps up, so does the demand for qualified employees. Recent reporting suggests that the employment market is heating up dramatically, and cannabis companies across Canada are actively looking for large numbers of qualified workers.

If you are a prospective cannabis retailer in Alberta, you need to be aware of your responsibilities with respect to you and your employees. The AGLC rules and regulations will have a significant impact on your recruitment and employment practices.

Qualified Cannabis Worker

In order to work in Alberta’s retail cannabis industry, an individual must be recognized as a Qualified Cannabis Worker. To become a Qualified Cannabis Worker, an applicant must:

  1. Complete and submit the Application for Qualified Cannabis Worker form to the AGLC;
  2. Provide a criminal record check dated within three months of submission of the Application; and
  3. Successfully complete the SellSafe Cannabis Staff Training Program (available online at sellsafe.aglc.ca.

Being charged with or convicted of a criminal offense may prevent an individual from becoming a Qualified Cannabis Worker, and once Qualified Cannabis Worker status has been achieved, any subsequent criminal charge must be reported to AGLC within 72 hours.

A retail employer must supply each Qualified Cannabis Worker with a laminated colour identification card containing a list of specific information, and a current colour photo which must be worn in a visible location by the employee at all times while on duty.

The retail employer must also keep a log of all Qualified Cannabis Workers employed, containing AGLC confirmation letters, photos, qualification numbers and expiry dates (a similar log relating to SellSafe certification must be kept as well). The logs are subject to AGLC review.

Failure by a retail-employer to ensure compliance with the AGLC’s staffing requirements could result in warnings, fines, or license suspension or termination.

If you are a prospective cannabis retailer and you have questions about your responsibilities in this regard, we encourage you to reach out to our cannabis industry practice group for advice.