Professionalism & Boundaries in the Cannabis Workplace
The hundreds of thousands of people who have made the decision to work for the cannabis industry take on immeasurable risks. Some risks are obvious, but others are not. Employees in a dispensary, cultivation, and transportation face tangible risks like robberies. But the internal risks can be detrimental as well. In Colorado, as in the case of Sweet Leaf, if employees are not trained correctly, or if they’re provided incorrect information, or are instructed to ignore the regulations, they risk facing the consequences. Ignorance of the regulations is not an acceptable excuse. When you sign up to work in this industry, it is up to you to get the training required to ensure compliance with regulations.
Just because you smoke weed together, doesn’t make someone your friend.
One of the biggest risks and challenges I have seen in this industry, for both employees and employer are… the employees. Listen, just because you smoke weed with someone, it doesn’t make them your friend. Just because you work in the cannabis industry, doesn’t mean everyone is trustworthy. This is not a festival; it is work. These are your co-workers first, smoking buddies second. Just like every other retail, industrial job, you need to set work-appropriate boundaries. I’ve witnessed countless examples of coworkers and owners creating a “family” atmosphere at work. Well, you know what most families are? Dysfunctional as hell!
- Employees: challenge yourselves to be the most professional and productive person in the facility. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, and stop sharing your entire personal life story on the first day of your job. Be mysterious, work hard, and maintain professional boundaries. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard some way-too-personal-shit that shouldn’t be discussed at work when walking into a dispensary. This is common throughout the industry and can lead to issues around sexual harassment and discrimination. Additionally, this type of casual exchange at work can also lead to drama among coworkers.
- Employers: create a healthy work environment and work culture by initiating team building activities, provide coaching, model appropriate behavior, provide incentives for professional behavior, help employees understand how to access the rules and regulations, prepare them for worst-case scenarios, provide employee handbooks and standard operating procedures, and provide training especially for updates in regulations. Create obtainable goals and expectations and apply them consistently.
This industry has its own breed of quirky and peculiar workplace habits, due to the nature of the industry. Just like every other industry, there will always be a few individuals whose undermining and unprofessional behaviors will affect the staff and productivity. Maintaining professional standards will protect employees and employers from unnecessary drama and decreased productivity.