B.C. cuts frequency of criminal record checks for workers in cannabis retail

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Those working in recreational cannabis retail in B.C. will need to complete security verification every five years instead of every two, an obligation initially meant to keep organized crime out of the province’s legal weed market.

The change will apply for workers who currently have valid security screening. The period will be extended from the date of their initial verification, according to B.C. Ministry of Attorney General.

The ministry announced the amendments to worker qualification regulations for non-medical cannabis workers on Tuesday.

With 4,300 workers screened to date, security screening and re-screening requirements involve background checks with police, courts and corrections databases, according to the ministry.

The pared-down screenings seek to fulfill the industry’s need for security-screened workers, while reducing costs to workers and ensuring their employment is not interrupted. “It will also allow provincial security screening resources to focus on the qualification of new workers rather than the requalification of current workers who are already working in the legal cannabis retail industry,” the ministry reports.

FILE: CP-Web. A vendor displays marijuana for sale during the 4-20 annual marijuana celebration, in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday Apr. 20, 2018. / Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Cannabis industry employers should consider a wide range of investigations for potential employees, recommends an article from Watson Goepel LLP in Vancouver. These investigations may include criminal background checks, credit checks or consumer reports, contacting references and previous employers, court record reviews and drug testing.

B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Licensing currently lists 207 legal retail stores as being open in the province.

But cannabis sales have proved lackluster for the province synonymous with weed. For the October 2018 to June 2019 period, B.C.’s legal sales were lower than every province except the markedly smaller P.E.I., according to CTV News.

Last year, B.C. Premier John Horgan cited the illicit market as among the factors leading to disappointing sales and cost challenges for operators in the legal space. / Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Late last year, Premier John Horgan cited the illicit market as among the factors leading to disappointing sales and cost challenges that made it tough for legal businesses to compete.

There are also many stores that are not provincially licensed that operate in the province, despite ongoing crackdowns and raids. For at least one Indigenous business, Tupa’s Joint in Vernon, B.C., these raids have served to cement operations and bolster popularity. Though not provincially licensed, the shop opened with support from the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) and follows the OKIB Cannabis Control Law.

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