A Canadian consulting company will soon be starting cannabis education for employers, according to a report from the CBC. The Alberta firm, Cannabis at Work, will offer courses to help employers navigate the Canadian legalization of cannabis.
The classes are designed to help companies understand how the law impacts employers that may have workers who use cannabis, either medicinally or recreationally. The courses are scheduled to begin next month at the University of Calgary.
Karen Stokke, the learning manager for Cannabis at Work, said there is a great need for education for employers about the issues surrounding cannabis and the workplace.
“There’s definitely people that have taken the time to educate themselves,” Stokke said. “I certainly think there’s a gap there, though, for a lot of employers.”
Stokke said that employers have some leeway in establishing cannabis guidelines for their workers. Under Canadian law, employers must reasonably accommodate employees who use cannabis medicinally. But that isn’t the case for workers who use pot recreationally.
“A company could have a policy that allows (consumption at work), but for the most part that’s not allowed,” she said.
Stokke said that the information that her company provides to employers can help them limit exposure to legal claims.
“It’s to help mitigate the risks for companies, if they have a medical cannabis user, or if they run into recreational cannabis users in the workplace,” Stokke said.
Firm Also Recruits Cannabis Professionals
Cannabis at Work also offers human resources and staffing services to clients in the cannabis industry, which the company rolled out last spring. Alison McMahon, the founder of Cannabis at Work, said that she had long wanted to begin matching executives with cannabis companies looking for new talent, but the industry wasn’t yet ready for such services.
“I had always had the staffing component in the back of my mind, but two years ago the market wasn’t mature enough to need a staffing agency,” said McMahon.
McMahon added that quality assurance positions are in high demand among firms in the industry, “given that cannabis production is such a highly regulated industry.”
Other jobs for highly trained professionals are also available at Candian cannabis firms, according to McMahon.
“We’re also hiring positions like chemical engineers, process scientists, mechanical engineers. And we’re definitely hiring on the cultivation side, so that could be like a head grower position,” she said.
McMahon said that opportunities can also be found for professionals skilled at retail and brand management, even those with experience in other industries.
“There’s only a select group of people at this point, who were early entrants to the cannabis sector and who have that cannabis-specific knowledge. But I think in a lot of cases, there is plenty of opportunity to take a solid skill set and apply it to the cannabis sector,” she said.
McMahon also said that some candidates for positions in the cannabis industry can be a little shy about their motivations, sometimes with humorous results.
“There’s not a lot of interviews that people have been in where it’s like, ‘Well tell me about your interest in cannabis, tell me about your experience with cannabis,’ so we still end up having to pull that out of people a little bit,” McMahon said.