Weed shops don't have enough employees, either

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Perhaps the only thing in shorter supply than weed at marijuana shops when they began selling to the public Jan. 1 were state-badged employees to work behind the counter.

Some marijuana shops have closed or reduced hours for recreational sales because of shortages of marijuana. Cresco Labs and PharmaCann closed dispensaries Monday to give employees time off after five days of long shifts, not because they were out of weed. 

“On Saturday, the leadership of our company was working registers because we didn’t have enough employees,” said Cresco spokesman Jason Erkes.
Ben Kovler, CEO of Green Thumb Industries, could be seen working the counter and behind the scenes at the company’s Rise dispensary in Mundelein on New Year’s Day.

Cannabis companies knew they’d have to staff up fast, doubling their headcount, to meet the Jan. 1 rollout. But many of those new employees, up to half for some companies, have been unable to work because they haven’t received required identification cards from Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

“The department currently licenses about 2,000 cannabis dispensary agents,” IDFPR said in a statement Wednesday. “With Illinois’ adult-use program going into effect, the department received an influx of new agent applications.

"The department is working as quickly as possible within the statutorily mandated timeframe to process those applications and ensure applicants undergo a background check and meet the requirements for licensure.”

Companies are reluctant to criticize IDFPR but have discussed the challenges with state officials.

Security restrictions are notoriously tight in the cannabis business because of fears that lawmakers have about crime associated with what has been a black-market industry. In the early going, shortages of employees are as common as shortages of cannabis.

"It could take two months to get an employee approved (in Ohio),” said Kayvan Khalatbari, a cannabis industry veteran from Colorado who has been involved in the business in multiple states. “We had people working deathly overtime and having owners and other existing employees doing jobs they aren’t used to, product moving out the door slower than you’d like. It’s a real hamper on business.”

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