By Riana Durrett, Esq., Executive Director, Nevada Dispensary Association
The foundation of the legal cannabis industry, especially in Nevada, is a layered matrix of rules at the federal, state, and local level. Potential employees face a maze of legal requirements to obtain a job in the industry as well as training specifications legally required for industry workers, which can be daunting to someone new to the industry.
Each state with legalized marijuana approaches the cannabis industry and regulation of its businesses differently. Before diving into details on employment and training, one must be familiar with Nevada’s approach and the types of marijuana establishments licensed to operate in the state.
In Nevada, marijuana is grown in a cultivation facility, after which point it can then be sold to a dispensary as flower or sent to a production facility. A production facility may manufacture, produce, or process various products, including edible products, oils, tinctures, balms, etc. At various stages in this process, marijuana is sent to a testing facility to be tested for various chemicals and pathogens. Marijuana cannot be sold to a consumer until it passes lab testing. Finally, after testing, marijuana moves from the cultivation or production facility to a dispensary or retail store to be sold.
State Requirements to Work in a Marijuana Establishment
To legally work in Nevada’s marijuana industry, prospective employees must meet several requirements, including obtaining a registered agent card. This requirement is integral to maintaining strict security and tight control over marijuana from the time it is planted to the time it is sold to a legal consumer. The requirement for all employees at a marijuana facility to have their agent card in their immediate possession ensures that only legally authorized persons are present in the facility.
To obtain a registered agent card, a potential employee may obtain and submit the application at marijuana.nv.gov, along with $75, to the Nevada Department of Taxation. To follow are some rules to know about obtaining an agent card:
o Must be 21.
o Must pass background check for excluded felonies.
o Once the application is submitted, the application is “temporarily” approved for 30 days.
o If the application is not approved or denied within 30 days, then it is deemed “conditionally approved.”
o An agent card is only good for one facility type (i.e. dispensary, cultivation, production).
o Any items missing from the application, such as payment, will delay approval of the application.
o A registered agent card must be renewed annually.
While a person can certainly obtain an agent card on their own, online training for those seeking guidance on the process as well as important information on related rules (including limited access and entry into an establishment) is available at nvdispense.com.
In February 2018, Nevada adopted permanent regulations governing “adult use” or recreational marijuana. These regulations are similar to those governing medical marijuana establishments and employees. However, adult use regulations increase the training requirements for any person obtaining a registered agent card and working in a marijuana facility. An employee can work in a facility that is licensed for both adult use and medical marijuana business at the same time. You’ll find the minimum training requirements to follow, but each establishment can and likely will provide further training.
Adult Use & Medical Marijuana Establishments
Before an employee may start work in a facility, they must receive training on the following, including the additional requirements for the category of establishment where they will work:
● The proper use of security controls that prevent diversion,
theft, or loss of marijuana.
● Emergency response.
● State and federal regulations related to the use of
● Different strains of marijuana.
● Different methods of consuming marijuana and marijuana products.
● Learning to recognize signs of marijuana abuse, impairment, or instability in the use of marijuana by a consumer.
● Clinical effects of marijuana on the human body and how THC affects the consumer.
● Required warnings and literature that must be supplied to a consumer.
● Methods of refusing entry or sales to prohibited persons, including:
o Verifying identification and using age verification devices.
o Education on the effects of marijuana on persons under 21 years of age.
o Recognition of false or altered identification.
● Understanding the role of law enforcement in confirming compliance with laws and regulations relating to marijuana.
● Applicable state and local laws and regulations regarding marijuana.
● Preventing unlawful consumption of marijuana, including laws which prohibit open or public consumption of marijuana.
● Preventing the use of marijuana by a person under 21 years of age, including laws which prohibit such use and related penalties.
● How to prevent and address disturbances.
● The responsibility of the marijuana establishment agent to help prevent diversion of marijuana.
● The methods of cultivation used by the facility.
● The methods of fertilization used by the facility.
● Methods for recognizing signs of insect infestation, pathogens, and disease as well as procedures for eradication and safe disposal of affected plants.
● Nutritional requirements of plants at various growth stages, including proper mixing and dispersal of fertilizer, flushing, and postharvest trimming, drying, and curing.
● Safe handling of equipment, including high-density discharge lamps, electrical ballasts, pumps, fans, cutting implements, and other equipment for cultivation.
● Understanding the difference between concentrated marijuana, topical products, and various other marijuana products processed at a production facility.
● The procedures used to create concentrated marijuana and marijuana products.
● The proper procedures for handling concentrated marijuana and marijuana products, including the process to prepare, produce, package, and store.
All the training requirements listed above must be provided to employees before they begin work in a marijuana establishment. In addition, each establishment must offer training on security measures, robbery prevention, and emergency response annually.
A Position of Opportunity
Marijuana establishments in Nevada employ approximately 5,000 to 7,000 full-time employees and this number is constantly expanding. The full-time employment figure does not include the multitude of jobs created from businesses that are either servicing or regulating the industry. The full-time employment figure doesn’t reflect the technology companies providing banking and cash solutions, law firms providing legal advice, companies providing fertilizer and growth mediums, university professors teaching marijuana law, companies and scientists studying the medicinal properties of marijuana, startups building technology platforms specifically to service the marijuana industry, etc.
The entry level wage for retail stores is approximately $14 per hour, well over the state’s minimum wage of $8.25, and many establishments offer health insurance. If you are interested in working at a marijuana facility and you are not sure you have the qualifications, consider the wide variety of jobs available, from sales to laboratory management, bookkeeping, marketing, human resources, botany, and more. There are many jobs available inside and outside of marijuana establishments and a large variety of skills and backgrounds necessary to fill those positions. For a detailed list of do’s and don’ts when searching for a job in the cannabis industry, please visit elevatenv.com/legalease
The industry’s growing employment base is one of the arguments supporters of legal marijuana in Nevada made for its legalization, noting that the State should capture taxes from the already existent and pervasive marijuana market rather than allowing that money to be lost to the illegal market. They also argued that legalization would create job opportunities and improve safety, given that marijuana sold on the illegal market is untested and often connected to crime rings and violent crime. These assurances have come to fruition and employment is one area where marijuana legalization has provided opportunities for the State of Nevada— opportunities that would have otherwise been lost to the illegal market.