How to Manage Your Workforce with Cannabis HR

Learn why your cannabusinesses should consider outsourcing its human resources department - plus our list of the industry’s best cannabis HR providers.

How to Manage Your Workforce with Cannabis HR Cover Photo

It’s no secret that the legal cannabis market is growing at an astonishing rate, with new dispensaries, commercial cultivators, processors, and other cannabusinesses opening each year. With industry growth predicted to keep rising, cannabusinesses now face the important tasks of hiring, retaining, training, and paying trustworthy, knowledgeable staff in increasing numbers. Fortunately, human resources firms dedicated to serving the cannabis industry have arisen to help business owners navigate these complex and time-consuming processes. Read on to learn all about cannabis industry HR, and discover our list of the best cannabis HR firms.

What Are Cannabis HR Firms?

Human resources (HR) administrators handle nearly any service related to staff, including hiring, training, and termination, administration of payroll and benefits, and the creation and implementation of essential company policies. Some cannabis human resources firms offer all or most of these services, making it easy to outsource your entire HR department to one company. Other firms are completely dedicated to a specialized area, such as payroll, recruitment, or employee training. Cannabis HR firms not only excel at employee management, but also understand and cater to the unique needs of the still new and strictly-regulated cannabis industry.

Why Outsourcing Employee Management is Essential for Cannabis Businesses

Employee management can be a full-time job all on its own – one involving adherence to strict laws and regulations. At its heart, the well-being of any business comes down to its employees. Properly vetted, well-trained, fairly compensated employees who understand the exact policies they are expected to follow significantly increase your business’s odds of thriving.


Human resources administration is a highly specialized area. Unless you or any members of your staff are very familiar with the legal and technical aspects of policy creation, payroll and benefits administration, or other HR duties, it’s in your best interest to outsource these tasks to the experts in these fields.


Compliance is key in absolutely every aspect of the legal cannabis industry. Failure to comply with industry regulations can result in costly fees, or even loss of your business license. Adherence to federal, state, and local labor and employment laws is also critical. An important component of cannabis HR administration is keeping up with all required staff and payroll-related record-keeping and reporting, while ensuring all staff-related policies and practices are fair and legal.


Running any business with employees (even just a few) involves a huge amount of record-keeping, policy concerns, and other important details. Dispensary, grow op, and testing lab owners have enough to keep track of without trying to become overnight experts in policy, payroll, and benefits – then managing these areas as well! Even if you do have some cannabis HR expertise, outsourcing all or some of these important tasks to professional specialists can save your business massive amounts of time, energy, and money.

What Do Cannabis HR Firms Do?


Cannabis HR firms are experts in staffing – from recruitment, running background checks, and creating job offer packages, to managing the interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes, conducting performance reviews, and carrying out corrective actions, exit interviews, and terminations or retirements. Some cannabis staffing agencies also offer employee scheduling and time clock services.

Cannabis staffing agency professionals will ensure your company complies with anti-discrimination laws, and that any employee mistakes or misdeeds are handled correctly,  protecting your company from potential lawsuits. While many cannabis HR firms do cover all duties related to hiring and managing staff, there are also several excellent companies dedicated strictly to cannabis staff recruitment.


Proper training is an absolute must for all cannabis industry staff. Implementing effective training during the onboarding process will ensure your employees understand their roles and responsibilities from day one, improving employee retention rates and enhancing the security of your business. Improperly trained staff are far more likely to make costly and potentially legally catastrophic mistakes.

Beyond the day-to-day processes of their jobs, cannabis employees must undergo training specific to cannabis handling, cannabis security, OSH (Occupational Safety and Health), workplace harassment, and legal dos and don’ts. Most jurisdictions have educational requirements in place for cannabis-handing employees, so be sure that the training programs you invest in meet the requirements for your location. There are several high-quality marijuana training courses available to cannabis businesses, administered either entirely online or in person.


Proper payroll administration is critical to a successful business. As well as ensuring your employees always receive their hard-earned money on schedule, cannabis payroll companies have to follow strict banking guidelines to remain compliant, especially in places like the United States, where cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.

Cannabis payroll duties include automatically paying employees on a set schedule (via direct deposit or printed paper checks), generating detailed paystubs, accounting for tips, taxes, and benefit deductions, generating summaries and reports for the business records, tax reporting, and more. Most cannabis payroll providers utilize software that can easily be integrated with other commonly used dispensary software, such as time-clocks.

Employee Benefits

The world of employee benefits, from insurance to paid vacation time, can be quite complicated to navigate. If your company offers any type of employee benefits, you’ll need the assistance of a benefits administrator. Employee benefits include health insurance, HSA (health savings accounts), disability insurance, life insurance, 401(k) or other retirement plans, paid sick and vacation time, worker’s compensation, tuition reimbursement, and profit-sharing.

Not only do benefits administrators walk employees through their benefit options, but they must ensure everything is done in accordance with local legal regulations, such as the extremely long and detailed Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States. Cannabis employee benefits administrators are not only experts in these specialized fields but also understand the unique concerns of staffing within the legal cannabis industry.


Implementation of company policies related to the roles of staff and management alike is crucial to ensuring a safe, effective, and legally compliant cannabis business. Cannabis company policy creation is much more complex than it might sound at first. Employee management firms with expertise in policy creation can help you create ironclad policies to keep your business and staff legally protected, with a clear road map to handle any situation that comes up.

Well-written company policies are necessary to clearly outline job descriptions, compensation structures, drug use policies, scheduling and time-off policies, corrective action and employee review policies, and many more. Having clearly-stated policies and procedures encourages an engaged and content staff, and makes it easy to implement proper corrective action when mistakes or misdeeds arise. Company policy specialists can also create print or online employee handbooks, containing all necessary policies in one convenient document.

Who Should Hire Cannabis HR Professionals?

Any business in the legal cannabis industry can greatly benefit from the services of dedicated HR and other cannabis employee management professionals. This includes dispensaries, commercial grow operations, cannabis testing labs, processors, manufacturers, cannabis delivery and logistics companies, and any ancillary businesses serving cannabis clients. Even if your business is small, with just a few employees, it’s crucial to lay down company policies and efficient infrastructure for potential future scaling up, while keeping your business running effectively in the now.

What Should You Look For in a Cannabis HR Firm?

As the legal cannabis industry continues growing at a remarkable rate, ancillary firms wanting to get in on the action have popped up all over the world. With so many options (of greatly varying quality) to choose from, how can you ensure your business is served by an HR firm that truly knows what it’s doing and will keep your cannabusiness in compliance? Here’s what to look for:

  • Cannabis Expertise – Only entrust these essential business services to companies that understand the ins and outs of cannabis businesses. Seek out an HR firm with a dedicated cannabis department, or one dedicated entirely to serving the cannabis industry.
  • Compliance-Minded – It’s not enough to simply hire, train, and pay employees. Proper record-keeping and reporting are critical – especially in such a tightly regulated industry as cannabis. Look for a firm whose practices and procedures are designed with compliance in mind every step of the way.
  • Approved Training – Ensure cannabis employee training not only covers the specialized areas you need your staff to master, but also meets the requirements of the country, state, or province your business is located in.
  • Software – Ensure your employee management firm either utilizes user-friendly software or can easily be integrated with your company’s software of choice.
  • Support Team – Easy access to a support team that can answer your questions, give HR advice, and walk you through unusual issues is essential.
  • Pricing – Of course, it’s important to ensure any outsourced employee management services fit in with your business’s budget.
  • Excellent Reputation – Any excellent cannabis HR or payroll firm will be backed by an excellent reputation, with plenty of reviews from satisfied clients. Pass on hiring any firm without an established track record of quality service. Ask around for recommendations from your local cannabusiness network, but be sure to do your own research before signing on the dotted line. Our list of trusted, high-quality cannabis employee management firms is a great place to start your search.

Our Recommended Cannabis Employee Management Firms

Cannabis Employee Management


AdaptiveHR Logo

AdaptiveHR is the premier all-in-one HR outsourcing option for cannabusinesses throughout the US. Powered by the renowned HR company Resourcing Edge, AdaptiveHR was expertly designed to handle the unique needs of the cannabis industry and offers a truly impressive suite of HR solutions – supported by the industry’s most cutting-edge, cloud-based technology, and backed by a top-notch customer service team. AdaptiveHR’s service packages are fully customizable, with long-term success and scalability in mind, and include virtually every imaginable HR service option from onboarding to retirement – alongside payroll, tax, and benefits administration (including healthcare, retirement plans, and many other insurance options), time clock, scheduling, performance management, risk management, essential EPLI coverage, and more.


Zenefits Logo

Zenefits and its clean, easy-to-navigate interface streamlines HR, payroll, time clock, and benefits administration. With its affordable rates, Zenefits caters to small and mid-sized businesses across a variety of industries, including cannabis. Zenefits handles employee management every step of the way, from job offers and onboarding to time-off requests and exit interviews, plus payroll services and an incredibly user-friendly health benefits administration system. Advisory services are also available so that Zenefits’ highly-trained staff can walk you through any sticky HR issues or other questions that come up. Zenefits has offices located throughout the US and in Vancouver, British Columbia.


PowerDMS Logo

PowerDMS is an easy-to-use online employee hub, allowing your staff to access, view, and sign policy documents and other important information any time, from any internet-enabled device – helping your business stay compliant and legally protected. PowerDMS’s online workflow tools allow for ease of communication and collaboration between departments, while also giving users the capability to create custom forms and even full online-based employee training programs. PowerDMS also offers PowerTime, a real-time employee scheduling tool that can easily be integrated with your payroll software. PowerDMS is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, and services cannabis businesses throughout the US.


PeopleGuru Logo

If you’re a green company with 50+ employees, looking for an agile Human Capital Management (HCM) solution, PeopleGuru has what you’re looking for. Simply put, PeopleGuru helps cannabis companies efficiently manage every stage of the employee lifecycle, mitigate tax and legislative compliance risk, and drive productivity with an all-in-one HCM solution. PeopleGuru’s cloud-based HCM software makes it easy to manage payroll, scheduling, performance evaluations, recruitment, benefits, compensation, and more. PeopleGuru’s rates are affordable and clients have access to a superb support team to answer questions and walk them through the process. PeopleGuru is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, and services cannabis businesses throughout the US.


THC123 Logo

A progressive and compliance-minded company dedicated to driving growth and helping the legal cannabis industry thrive, THC123 provides an impressive range of business solutions, making it easy for cannabusinesses to streamline operations and increase profitability by outsourcing their entire HR department to one company. THC123 is a full-service HR firm and employment agency, with cannabis industry-specific expertise in payroll and tax management, benefits and insurance, risk management, compliance, human resources, and staff recruitment. THC123 is headquartered in Clinton Township, Michigan, and services cannabis businesses throughout the United States.


Hemploy Logo

Focus on your passion; outsource your headaches. Hemploy is incredibly excited to be at the forefront of America’s expanding cannabis industry. By leveraging its expertise and experience with hundreds of employers nationwide, Hemploy brings a range of solutions to serve you, your cannabis company, and your employees. Whether it is Human Resources, Payroll & Government Compliance, Workers’ Compensation & Safety, or Benefits – as a Hemploy client, check it off as done. Hemploy services all types of cannabis businesses, including dispensaries, cultivation facilities, manufacturers, testing facilities, transporters, and more. Hemploy is a division of Simploy, an esteemed PEO based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Cannabis Employee Training


360Training Logo

One of the top employee training resources in the US, in business over 20 years, 360Training offers a Cannabis Vendor Training Course that is both ANSI accredited and ASTM compliant. Employees handling cannabis edibles can also pair a food-safety course with this cannabis vendor training program. This entirely online-based marijuana training course requires a minimum 77% score to pass and receive certification, is affordable, mobile-friendly, and backed by tech support. This course currently meets certification requirements in several US states, including California and Washington. Bulk orders of this cannabis training course are available at a discount to use as employee training.

Cannabis Employee Recruitment

Viridian Staffing

Viridian Staffingh Logo

The cannabis industry’s oldest and most esteemed staffing provider, Viridian Staffing draws on over a decade-long Fortune 100 HR and recruitment background to connect all types of cannabis, hemp, and ancillary businesses with top-tier permanent and temporary talent, from entry-level to c-suite and everything in between. Viridian’s elite recruitment services are so precise that it adheres to a results-only basis – meaning you won’t owe a fee nor be required to retain any placement that doesn’t prove to be an excellent fit for your business. Viridian Staffing operates globally, with its reach spanning North and South America, as well as an increasing number of Asian and European countries.


Hemp Staff Logo

One of the cannabis and hemp industry’s top recruiting and training companies since 2014, HempStaff is a family-owned and operated business that goes the extra mile to match businesses with the very best employee candidates. HempStaff connects cannabis companies with star talent throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and Canada. In addition to cannabis staff recruitment, HempStaff offers live and on-demand training courses to ensure your employees are armed with the knowledge they need to be successful – and help your business stay compliant. HempStaff’s cannabis training courses include general and state-specific dispensary training, cannabis sales training, advanced cannabis science, dispensary management, and more.

GreenForce Staffing

GreenForce Logo

GreenForce is a premier full-service staffing agency dedicated completely to providing Oregon’s rapidly-growing cannabis market with outstanding labor solutions. GreenForce helps cannabis businesses throughout the state find temporary or permanent talent to fill any and all positions, from cultivation, trimming, and product packaging to budtending and bookkeeping. GreenForce’s Flex Staffing service allows cannabusinesses to utilize its huge team of skilled cannabis professionals to cover shifts – on a temporary or ongoing basis. Business owners with highly specific roles to fill can take advantage of GreenForce’s Permanent Placement recruitment service, bringing the state’s most qualified potential hires directly to you. GreenForce is headquartered in Portland.

Cannabis Employee Benefits

Bennabis Health

Bennabis Health Logo

As HR professionals increasingly evaluate the cost-benefit of offering a medical cannabis employee benefit, many employers remain reticent to create formal benefit plans – leaving employees burdened with out-of-pocket medical cannabis costs (from $300-$1200 monthly) and self-education – often without support from their healthcare professionals. Bennabis Health reduced these burdens by developing the nation’s first membership program for individuals, non-profits, and employees. An annual fee entitles members to 15% dispensary discounts and access to a vast library of education and community support. Bennabis Health’s propriety process is also configured to manage employee benefit programs and is fully prepared to complete the integration necessary for employers to offer this new benefit, in a model conceptually like traditional PBM’s. For HR professionals interested in learning more about this innovative approach, contact Bennabis Health President Don Parisi or inquire at

Leading Retirement Solutions

Leading Retirement Solutions (LRS) is one of the only existing 401(k) plan providers with dedicated cannabis industry expertise. Offering competitive pricing, top-notch customer service, and access to traditional and nontraditional investments, LRS designs and sets up secure, fully-compliant employee retirement plans, including company contribution programs and payroll contribution processing. LRS has served the cannabis industry since 2014, continually refining and expanding its benefits offerings, which now include its trademarked Leading Cannabis 401(k) Plan and trustee-directed Cannabis Cash Balance Plan. Leading Retirement Solutions is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and operates throughout the US.

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