Having a pot-related arrest or conviction used to be a liability for job seekers. Now, a criminal record might lead to a job in the legal marijuana industry.
HempStaff, a recruitment and training agency in Miami, launched a new division last month to help cannabis firms in Illinois and five other states hire employees that meet certain social equity requirements, including those with pot offenses on their records.
HempStaff hopes to help those folks “find their dream opportunities,” a news release from the company says. But there’s also benefits for employers.
Under Illinois’ legalization law, budding “ganjapreneurs” vying for licenses to sell and grow recreational weed can get an edge in the application process if most of their employees have been arrested for or convicted of a cannabis offense that’s eligible for expungement.
Arrest records for possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis — which will soon be the legal limit — can be automatically expunged under the law. For cases involving between 30 and 500 grams, individuals will need to petition the court for expungement. On average, one gram is enough for three joints.
In addition, companies can get a leg up in the process if their workers live in an area “disproportionately impacted” by past drug policies or have an affected family member.
HempStaff will assist Illinois firms in hiring those workers so the businesses can qualify as social equity applicants and score additional points in the process of getting a precious pot license — even if the owners themselves don’t meet the criteria.
HempStaff CEO James Yagielo said qualifying as a social equity applicant “could very well be the difference between having enough points over someone or not.”
While no local positions are posted on the company’s job board, Yagielo said the Illinois firms that have already contracted HempStaff plan to apply for the next round of 75 conditional dispensary licenses that will be issued by May.
The sponsors of the state pot law sought to use the legislation to boost minority participation in the industry in part as an attempt to right some of the wrongs of the drug war. (Firms owned by individuals who have lived in an impacted area or have cannabis-related offenses on their records also can qualify as social equity applicants.)
The provision that grants social equity status to employers has, however, drawn scrutiny from members of the Chicago City Council’s