When it comes to workplace compliance in the marijuana industry, many business owners want to know what will be different for their business compared to other retail or service industries. The reason for the murkiness in the first place stems from the fact that according to the federal government, Marijuana is still classified as a schedule I drug, meaning that it has no medicinal benefit and is considered highly addictive. Because of this designation, many aspects of commerce that wouldn’t be an issue for ordinary businesses such as banking and taxes, become somewhat of an added burden when conducting day-to-day operations.
Many states have made progress on marijuana reform, such as giving it a medicinal designation, while others have made it outright legal. Federal enforcement is the major worry for marijuana dispensaries, and depending on the administration, there will be either more or less to worry about. That being said, business owners who strive to comply with labor laws find themselves looking for clearer guidelines of what they are responsible for.
While federal regulations will maintain its murky status regarding the legality of cannabis, business owners should still comply with regular business standards. On the state level, where it is legal to operate a cannabis dispensary, employees maintain their right to a fair workplace environment. As such, the displaying of labor posters is still a requirement, at least on the state level. This means that minimum wage, job safety, and anti-discrimination laws still must be adhered to. With regards to the federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Equal Employment Opportunity, OSHA compliance, the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the laws regarding posting these laws remains uncertain. On the one hand, employers are still responsible to comply with federal labor laws, even though the business itself isn’t recognized as a legal entity. Because of this, it is still good business practice to comply with these laws, if only not to draw any federal attention to the business. The clearest case regarding compliance on the federal level comes from the IRS, who maintains the position that while marijuana is illegal, businesses are still required to file federal income tax returns, even though many of the deductions are limited because commerce is still taking place with a controlled substance.
Because labor compliance has more to do with the relationship between employers and employees, and less to do with the government and business owners, posting of all federal labor posters are recommended, and state posters are mandatory. The gray legal areas are still being worked out, but employee rights should still matter whether pot is legal or illegal, therefore the rule of thumb is to comply with all labor, legal, and tax matters, for the sake of the employees and the business.