Having an Employee Training Strategy

Written by Jenny Germano

Whether you’re an existing Cannabis operator or working on getting licensed, having a plan in place for onboarding, training requirements and continual training of employees is vital and in some cases it’s written into the cannabis regulations in some States. I’ve often said that employees are the gatekeepers of compliance in the Cannabis Industry and without them there would be no industry. Employees have the last set of eyes on the product before it leaves a Cultivation or Manufacturer, and definitely as it makes its way out the door of the Dispensary. 

The first place to start is ensuring that you have a good understanding of employee training requirements in the State you’re operating in or wishing to operate in. Here are a few examples of training requirements from a variety of States:

  • Food Safety/Food Handling Certification
  • Responsible Vendor Training 
  • Pesticide Applicators License 
  • Training and Training Attestations for SOPS
  • Sample Collection for Test Batch Samples
  • Metrc Administrator Training (Seed-to-Sale)
  • Training on Extraction Equipment 
  • 5 to 10 hours of cannabis safety continuing education a year for Dispensary Agents

Every State is different, early adopters in Cannabis have less training requirements and are starting to get caught up with new States coming on line and requiring comprehensive training. Across the country we’re seeing a lot more defined cannabis training requirements for employees written into the application packets and that the applicants are required to have a compliance and training plan in place with specific stipulations. This sets the stage for when new States begin to draft their regulations and it also gives States who’ve been legal for a lot longer, a better defined playbook they can add into new draft language. 

Where is a good place to start? Once you’ve outlined the training requirements, develop a strong compliance program for your licensed operation and incorporate the employee training into the program. Some companies hire businesses who specialize in Cannabis training to help buildout or contribute to their training program and other companies have their own in-house training. 

No matter which path your company chooses, here are a few good reminders for training employees that are well worth considering:

  • Have well-structured onboarding training, and provide an outline or a packet for employees to follow along or some type of take home materials. 
  • Outline for employees what they will be trained on and how often - create a master training schedule for the company. 
  • Ask employees questions to engage with them during the training, letting them give real life examples in certain areas of the training that applies. Let them participate in the process. 
  • Ensure there are breaks in between long training days - try not to cram everything in one day and sprinkle in some icebreakers. 
  • Build the training out like a workshop and include some team building exercises.
  • Train employees quarterly on all SOPs, processes, and day-to-day operations. Also always follow your State training requirements.
  • Remember, compliance refreshers are always good for brand new and established employees. 
  • Weave in leadership training to broaden the experience for managers and pave the way for them to build more skills.
  • Curate for the employees an opportunity to build a good team connection through adding in some fun activities during the learning process. 

It’s important for a business to create an environment for employees to perform their job’s to the best of their ability and also for them to keep growing. When employees stop growing, and do not feel challenged, things begin to lose their luster - it can become a “ just going through the motions” at the workplace, and that is not good for customers, employees or the bottom line. 

The less you invest in employees, the higher turnover rate your company will experience. If you try to skirt the rules, fly under the radar, and just do the bare minimum - your employees will reciprocate back the same. 

Check out a few of our other blogs about employees that might be helpful, such as: How Employees Can Make Or Break Your Company: Finding And Keeping The Right Team For Your Cannabis Business or Hiring New Employees with the Right Resources for Your Regulated Cannabis Business.


ICS Consulting specializes in Compliance based services, such as Third-Party State Regulatory Audits, State and Local License Application Support, Technical Writing, Standard Operating Procedures Development, Compliance Operations Training, Employee Retention Solutions, and Employee Onboarding. For more information on how ICS Consulting Service can help your Cannabis Business, book a free 30-minute consult and we'll help you map out your next steps to be successful in the Regulated Cannabis Industry.