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Aspiring Budtender? Protect Yourself & Know Your Rights

The Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation are working together to alert job seekers to the potential risks and hazards of working in an unlicensed cannabis store.

“Those who are looking for work at a cannabis store or dispensary should know that many of these stores are unlicensed and are operating illegally under state and local law,” said Joseph Nicchitta, Cannabis Management Officer at LA County’s Office of Cannabis Management. “If you work at an illegal store, you could be physically unsafe. Our inspectors and law enforcement have observed unpermitted electrical wiring, exits that are blocked in case of a fire, and other dangerous conditions at illegal stores.”

Since recreational cannabis became legal statewide in January 2018, regulators have also begun receiving complaints from workers about unfair labor practices and possible violations, including wage theft and unsafe working conditions.

“We have begun to receive complaints from workers at illegal cannabis stores involving wage theft, sexual harassment, and unacceptable working conditions,” added Los Angeles County’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Director Brian J. Stiger. “Prospective employees should ask questions and educate themselves about the realities of the cannabis industry before they decide to sign up for a job.”

“With cannabis legalization comes market expansion and new employment opportunities. I urge job seekers to ask if the business has both the state and local licenses to operate and to check out the cannabis store’s business practices before starting a job,” said Cat Packer, the Executive Director and General Manager of LA City’s Department of Cannabis Regulation.

Legal cannabis businesses CANNOT hire anyone under the legal age of 21. In addition to meeting the age requirement, LA County and LA City regulators urge job seekers to ask the following questions:

What to Ask When Seeking Cannabis Employment

Can I see your state and local license?
Ask to see both the store’s state and local license and check with the state and local licensing agencies to make sure the store has the proper license. Cannabis must be purchased from a licensed retail source with dual licensure in good standing with both state and local regulators. As of today, cannabis businesses are still prohibited in the unincorporated areas of L.A. County.

When will I receive my pay stub?
You should always receive a pay stub— even if you are paid in cash. The paystub must include deductions, pay rates, and hours. When you are first hired, the employer must give you an initial compensation disclosure that gives information about your pay rate. It is also against the law to ask a retail employee to work for free on a probationary period longer than two hours.

What should I do if the authorities show up?
It should be a warning sign if your employer instructs you never to open the door for law enforcement, fire fighters, or other city or county inspectors. A licensed and legal business is routinely inspected by government employees.

What time does the business close?
All legal cannabis stores close at 10 p.m. in California. You should not be working in a retail sales position after 10 p.m. because the law makes it illegal to sell between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs’ Wage Enforcement Program investigates violations of the County’s Minimum Wage Ordinances for those employees who work in the unincorporated areas of the County. If your employer does not pay you the mandated minimum wage, you can file a complaint online at the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs website, via phone at (800) 593-8222, or email at wagehelp@dcba.lacounty.gov. The Department can also help you understand your rights under the County’s minimum wage laws, investigate alleged violations of the law by your employer, and help you get the wages that are owed to you. These services are free of charge and the Department will not ask or report your immigration status.

The City of LA’s Office of Wage Standards is responsible for implementing the guidelines of the Los Angeles Minimum Wage and Minimum Wage Enforcement Ordinances in the City of LA. This office ensures that employers in the City comply with the appropriate minimum wage rates specified by law and can investigate potential wage theft violations. To learn more or submit a complaint please visit the LA City Office of Wage Standards website.

Since 2016, the Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has served LA County and its residents by leading the transition of cannabis to a regulated market with policies that seek to protect consumers, and promote the health and safety of our communities. With a focus on responsible regulation and education, OCM is a resource to County Departments, other agencies, and the community. For more information, visit http://cannabis.lacounty.gov/

Since 1976, the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) has served consumers, businesses, and communities through education, advocacy, and complaint resolution. We work every day to educate consumers and small business owners about their rights and responsibilities, mediate disputes, investigate consumer fraud complaints, and enforce Los Angeles County’s minimum wage ordinance. For more information, visit www.dcba.lacounty.gov

The City of Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) is responsible for administering the Rules and Regulations adopted by the Council for licensed commercial cannabis businesses within the City of Los Angeles. The DCR administers the business application process in conjunction with the Cannabis Regulation Commission, makes determinations related to non-retail cannabis licensing, administers and coordinates the audit and inspection processes for licensed cannabis-related businesses, and enforcing regulatory compliance of licensed businesses engaged in commercial cannabis activity.