The marijuana industry in Canada is growing. This year, Canada will be introducing legalized recreational cannabis to the nation, which means a lot of people are excited about possible employment opportunities. Medical marijuana companies, which are expected to also be main producers for the recreational market, expect to add 150,000 jobs over the next couple years.
Retail stores will also be hiring staff and many new producers will be springing up. Jobs will include front line customer relations, accounting, growing, marketing and more. Many people have their sights set on becoming entrepreneurs in this new industry. In fact, many of them are already entrepreneurs.
Canada is in an odd position right now because the march to legalization has been so long and inevitable that numerous illegal dispensaries have sprung up across the country. These storefront locations have provided income for the proprietors and staff they have hired.
Unfortunately, they have also resulted in new criminal records, which is especially concerning for those with titles like “clerk” or “budtender.” Many of these types of workers are poorly paid and young, but passionate about the product and the idea of “legalization.” These people would make great employees in the legalized sector given their experience and product knowledge.
Not only would the employer benefit from having them, it would also help the employees leave the illegal sector. Many provinces are planning to allow sales through government stores either partly or exclusively. For example, Ontario plans to sell recreational marijuana through its Liquor Control Board (LCBO). These are unionized jobs with salaries above $20 per hour. For your average budtender currently making $14 an hour while risking being robbed or arrested, this could seem like an attractive proposition.
On the other hand, leaving the workforce out in the cold could hamper government plans to shut down the illegal industry.
Will a criminal record prevent you from working in the marijuana industry?
The biggest problem that the government has with the idea of people with records working in the marijuana industry is organized crime. This is one of the main reasons the government wants to legalize marijuana: to take the profits out of the hands of criminals who may be involved in drug and weapons trafficking, gang associations, and violent crime.
The government is recommending criminal record checks for all participants in the marijuana industry, but this won’t necessarily prevent a person from getting a job. A Health Canada consultation paper released late last year contemplated allowing people with minor, non-violent, records to take on roles outside of the “C-suite.” In other words, it’s possible that people with records could be employees, but not executives.
Where does that leave the activists that led the way to where we are now? There are many entrepreneurs that have been arrested for selling marijuana in Canada. Some of these people were profit-driven, but many were driven by a sense of social justice and spent as much time and money on lobbying and rallying as they did on marketing. Without these people, there wouldn’t be a legal marijuana industry in Canada.
Will these types of people be barred from owning stores or production companies or taking high-level positions in existing companies? It seems highly possible. On the other hand, it could be difficult for the government to shut down illegal sales if they shut out industry pioneers who have loyal supporters. As well, some people find this possibility particularly upsetting given that some of the police officers who led the war on cannabis are now taking up lucrative leadership positions in the marijuana industry.
When it comes to criminal records, a best practice in hiring is that employers should demonstrate a connection between the record and the job being offered before rejecting a candidate. It wouldn’t be difficult for a provincial or municipal government or company to make a connection between a record for illegal trafficking and the selling of recreational marijuana. On the other hand, simply possessing or growing for personal use could be overlooked.
What about pardons?
Currently, the government has not announced any amnesty for criminal records related to marijuana. However, Justin Trudeau has hinted that they will after legalization is in place.
The most likely action that the government will take is to pardon records for possession of under 30 grams, which is a summary offence. It is also the maximum amount approved for legal personal possession under the new law. It’s very unlikely that the government would offer pardons for trafficking or possession of larger amounts.
Getting a Record Suspension
Canadians can apply for a Record Suspension after a waiting period of five years for a summary conviction and 10 years for an indictable conviction. This allows you to provide a clear background check to potential employers. In most provinces and in federally regulated industries, it prevents employers from discriminating against you on the basis of a record.
A Record Suspension is an option for anyone who wants to work in the marijuana industry. There are many ways a Record Suspension can lead to a career in the industry;
Summary convictions: Let’s say that you have a charge that may eventually qualify for an amnesty, such as minor possession. The government still has to write the bill and get it passed. The bill could face opposition in the House of Commons. Companies are hiring now, while a minor possession charge could stay on your record for years. What if the government can’t follow through before the next election? If it becomes a second-term goal, a change in government could result in the amnesty being thrown out.
Business licences: Thinking of opening your own retail store or production company? Many municipalities impose a criminal record check as part of the licensing requirements. If they don’t, they could impose such a bylaw just for marijuana companies. Don’t forget that there are a lot of city councillors out there who aren’t happy about legalization.
Career mobility: Maybe your goal today is to be a grower or a budtender, but things change. People move up in their careers and you could have a job offer down the road that requires a higher security clearance. Clear your record today, so that you can take advantage of tomorrow’s opportunities.
Travel: These days there’s talk about marijuana becoming a global industry. Clear your record for opportunities in Europe and Australia.
US Entry Waiver
Although the United States considers marijuana illegal under federal law, several US States have legalized marijuana for recreational use. These states frequently hold conventions, trade shows, seminars and networking opportunities that can benefit cannabis workers in Canada. A US Entry Waiver allows a Canadian with a drug charge or several other types of charges to enter the United States.
If you have a record and are interested in working in the cannabis industry or any other industry that conducts background checks, contact AllCleared today for a free consultation on how you can seal your record for work or travel at 1-866-972-7366.