Saskatchewan’s marijuana hiring spree: can you get a job with a criminal record?

Click to play video: 'What qualifications are cannabis retailers looking for in staff?'
What qualifications are cannabis retailers looking for in staff?
WATCH: A hiring spree is about to take place as cannabis retailers look to hire staff. Meaghan Craig looks at the qualifications companies are looking for in potential employees – Aug 22, 2018

According to a Deloitte report, sales of recreational marijuana in the Canadian marketplace could be as much as $5 billion a year to start.

A hiring spree among cannabis retail stores is underway ahead of legalization on Oct. 17, but could a criminal record prevent qualified candidates from getting a job?

Prairie Cannabis said it isn’t opposed to hiring someone convicted of a pot possession charge as long as they were the most accomplished among all the applicants that apply for the retailers 10 to 12 jobs.

The couple who owns the business live in Saskatoon but the store itself will operate out of Prince Albert. They’re already getting ready by hiring people for a number of positions.

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“We will be hiring retail managers, budtenders, shipping and receiving as well as delivery drivers,” Prairie Cannabis’ Rebecca Katz said.

Rebecca Katz, who is with Prairie Cannabis Ltd.

When it comes to pot, what are retail owners looking for on a resume? If someone smokes now, does it make them a total shoo-in?

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“We just want really passionate people about pot, the self-taught connoisseur ready to teach people show them their way and guide them through this new exciting industry we have coming,” Katz added.

Having consumed pot before isn’t necessarily a prerequisite but cannabis advocates say, in the long-run, it could help provide clients with better customer service.

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“Can you really relate to the person on that personal level of experience if you don’t? No, but doesn’t mean you couldn’t be qualified enough to be trained and give the information properly,” Jeffery Lundstrom, with Skunk Funk Smoker’s Emporium, said.

Katz said she just hopes the most skilled people apply and being well versed with the drug would be beneficial for business.

“The more knowledgeable and experienced our budtenders are the more they can help people.”

As long as you’re passionate about the plant, a minor cannabis infraction on your record does not make a difference for this particular company.

In Alberta, pot possession won’t prevent you from working in the industry but trafficking or a violent crime on your record will.

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According to Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), cannabis retailers in this province are responsible for staffing within their retail outlet and will make their own decisions related to hiring.

SLGA will not be conducting criminal record reviews of cannabis retail employees. Retail owners and managers will need to evaluate what impact a potential employee’s previous criminal conviction could have on their business.

All cannabis retail owners and managers are required to take training in the responsible sale of cannabis before a permit will be issued by the SLGA.

Similarly, employees working within those retail outlets are also required to take the training before starting their employment.

When asked if there is a right or wrong way for provinces to approach possible hires with criminal convictions, Jerome Konecsni, executive-in-residence with Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, has this to say.

“When one of the biggest risks you have is who you bring into your company. So anything that when underscored raises a risk or raises a red flag should be a priority for a responsible employer.”


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