MJBizMag May-June 2022 - 56

'Diamonds in the Rough'
BENEFITS OF GIVING
SECOND CHANCES
Boston cannabis retailer Pure Oasis also
employs workers with criminal records,
said co-owner Kobie Evans, explaining
that the company " (believes) in giving
people second chances. "
" People with (criminal records) are
definitely very valuable in this industry-especially
with cannabis-because
you really want subject-matter experts,
people who can speak intelligently about
the product, " he said.
One Pure Oasis employee had an
open criminal case related to graffiti,
Evans said.
" Those skills also transferred into our
business, because he did some artwork
for different installations, and that was
valuable. "
Recruitment expert Kara Bradford
said cannabis companies have become
more open to employing those with
criminal records as they recognize the
potential benefits.
Bradford, the co-founder and CEO
of Seattle-based cannabis humanresources
agency Viridian Staffing, said
that because so many other industries
still won't hire workers with a criminal
history, " as cannabis companies, by
providing these opportunities and
treating these employees well, you also
will likely have an employee who is
loyal and who you are able to retain. "
Employee retention matters in a
tight labor market, she added.
" In any labor market-but especially
in this labor market-the ability to
retain workers can mean the difference
between you keeping your doors open
versus reducing store hours due to not
having enough workers. "
Potential business benefits aside,
there is also a strong moral argument
for employing those with criminal convictions
related to cannabis.
" When you throw people away and
don't give them a way to earn a living,
then that just creates a cycle where
they can't provide for their family, and
the whole cycle repeats, " said Nichole
56 May-June 2022 | MJBizMagazine
Kika
Keith
Upshaw, executive vice president
of human resources for Florida-based
multistate marijuana company
Jushi Holdings.
RECRUITMENT TIPS
Gorilla Rx's Keith said her success in
hiring formerly incarcerated cannabis
workers grew out of a proactive,
intentional hiring process.
" People aren't just going to walk
through your door, right? " she said.
" You have to have a commitment to
make that social impact. "
For Keith, that commitment involved
visiting neighborhood councils and
workforce-development centers to
spread the word that she wanted to hire
disadvantaged applicants.
Pure Oasis' Evans found hiring
success with job fairs designed to be
friendly to applicants with a criminal
history, as well as job postings spelling
out that those with criminal records
were welcome to apply.
He also suggested reaching out to
local nonprofits, public defenders
and social workers who work with the
recently incarcerated.
" I think it's about being creative
and, really, somewhat aggressive about
trying to achieve this goal, " he said.
Jushi's Upshaw said the company
held an all-day career event for communities
of color in Pennsylvania last
year, featuring talks on resume writing
and mock job interviews.
Hiring and training individuals with
prior criminal convictions-especially
for marijuana-related offenses-can
pay dividends for growing cannabis
companies. Staff members who
have experience growing and selling
marijuana need only learn the
regulatory and policy side of the
business before jumping in with both
feet. To recruit and retain workers with
prior convictions, business owners
should consider:
* States and municipalities might have
differing laws on whether cannabis
companies can employ those
convicted of drug-related offenses.
Familiarize yourself with regulations
in your area before recruiting.
* When writing and publishing job
advertisements, highlight your
company's willingness to hire those
with criminal convictions.
* Reach out to public defenders, social
workers and nonprofits that work with
previously incarcerated individuals to
communicate your plans.
* Consider holding a career workshop
to help job seekers improve their
applications and chances for
employment.
They plan a similar event this year.
" If I was a single operator, or just
had a couple of stores, (I would) get
connected in the industry and don't do
it alone, " Upshaw advised.
Privately held MSO Terrapin has also
had success with job fairs, said Peter
Marcus, the company's vice president
of communications.
Before holding a job fair in Michigan,
the Colorado-based company offered
a special social equity workshop in
partnership with marijuana industry
social equity advocacy group The Color
of Cannabis.
The event included a career
counselor who offered guidance on
interviews and resume-building.
" The whole goal of that was to provide
a leg up, the right background, the
right resume skills, the right interview
skills, to eventually-a week later-take

MJBizMag May-June 2022

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