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Breaking into the Cannabis Industry in Canada? Discover the Key HR Challenges Explored at the Recent Cannabis 360 Conference


Success in the cannabis industry requires an understanding of the unique work environment and the regulations that govern it. Cannabis is a nascent industry in Canada, and businesses are grappling with ways to ensure efficient and compliant operations. As with any industry, Human Resource departments are there to help businesses navigate the complexities of management and the impact on employees. When it comes to the cannabis business, HR departments face distinct issues relating to legislation, payroll, and employee engagement. Understanding these challenges is the first step to building a successful career in the industry. 

The recent Cannabis 360 Conference, hosted by AAPS, brought together industry experts to discuss key facets of the Cannabis market today. Our panelists had the chance to share their insights on the state of the industry and important considerations for navigating the workplace. For students exploring their career opportunities, here’s a closer look at some of the themes explored at the AAPS conference. 

Navigating Compliance in the Industry

Cannabis is one of the most highly regulated industries today. Businesses must place compliance at the forefront of their HR strategies in order to maintain their legal status and succeed in that space. Since the cannabis industry is still in its early stages, compliance measures are continually evolving. Businesses must take note of any changes, and adapt their reporting, procedures, and equipment accordingly. 

Those in cannabis careers must place compliance regulations at the forefront of their HR strategies

HR departments are also responsible for complying with any procedures relating to employee management. These include health and safety laws, worker compensation claims, diversity and inclusion, and wellness and benefits offerings. To promote clarity, HR departments may develop employee handbooks that include outlines on:

  • Policies and procedures
  • Allowances 
  • Conduct 
  • Safety protocols 

Highlighting important legal issues can help to drive compliance in a business and open communication regarding the company culture. At the Cannabis 360 Conference, students interested in cannabis careers had the chance to hear from HR expert Hilda Gan. Hilda spoke to her experience providing strategic HR support to businesses and on the importance of providing team training to engage employees with a company’s policies and procedures. 

Develop clear protocols relating to compliance procedures in your business

Financial Challenges

Banking continues to bring its own set of challenges to cannabis businesses. For professionals in the cannabis industry in Canada, establishing a relationship with a financial institution remains one of the biggest hurdles. Most major Canadian banks are still hesitant to engage with cannabis businesses. As the industry develops, this is expected to become easier. In the meantime, many businesses have resorted to paying employees in cash, which brings its own set of security concerns and challenges to tax filings. To remedy this, HR departments must develop innovative payroll solutions that promote accuracy and efficiency in payments. 

Students in a cannabis program explore this topic through courses on Business Management in the industry. Courses will place an emphasis on operations management and financial plan development in the cannabis space. At the Cannabis 360 Conference, participants had the chance to build on this knowledge by hearing from HR experts on the ever-changing market conditions and the best way to capitalize on emerging business opportunities. 

HR departments should note the financial challenges of the cannabis industry

Hiring Employees for Cannabis Careers

Those in cannabis industry training will be well aware of how rapidly the field is expanding. With numerous positions available, HR departments are tasked with upholding effective recruitment strategies. As a new industry, the cannabis space is in need of skilled professionals with the formal training to offer valuable services to a business. Recruiting and engaging employees with the experience necessary to meet company demands is a top priority for HR managers today. 

In recent years, HR departments in the industry have focused on:

  • Recruiting efforts
  • Efficient onboarding plans
  • Continual training sessions
  • Employee retention plans 

By dedicating resources to building an informed and engaged workforce, cannabis businesses can foster consistency and efficiency in their operations. The Cannabis 360 Conference explored similar HR strategies to help businesses build stronger teams and work cultures through recruitment, training, and coaching. 

Are you interested in expanding your knowledge of the cannabis industry?

Contact the Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences to learn more about our program!

Interested in AAPS? Contact us directly or provide your information for a call back.

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