BlogsCan A Felon Work at a Dispensary?

Dispensary Job Requirements: Can A Felon Work at a Dispensary?


A felony conviction can limit job opportunities. But does that apply to the blossoming cannabis industry?

We’ll discuss whether a felony-level criminal conviction can work at a dispensary along with what types of convictions are typically okay for dispensary employment. 


What’s typically allowed? 


Someone with a felony on their record is going to have a hard time finding work in the legal cannabis industry, with a few general caveats:



  • If the felony occurred after a certain time frame (10 or so years)
  • If the felony meets requirements to be expunged by the state following cannabis legalization
  • If your felony conviction is not one of your state’s excluded felony offenses, for example if it’s a non-violent felony
  • If your state doesn’t automatically disqualify prospective dispensary employees based on felony convictions, often recommending character references 


Almost every dispensary is going to require a background check for everyone from budtenders to growers to business owners – so there will be no way to hide a criminal record. Oftentimes, the decision to hire someone with a record comes down to the business, not the state.


Remember, every state is different. You can find out what the requirements are to work at a cannabis business in your state by visiting their state website. We’ll also cover some popular states and whether or not they allow felons to work at dispensaries. 


State laws for convicted felons


Because regulations are vastly different depending on your location, let’s look at some popular legal cannabis states to understand their stance on felony cannabis employees.


Michigan: Dispensary owners need written permission from The Board before hiring any prospective employees with a pending charge or conviction for a controlled substance-related felony within the last 10 years.


Nevada: You cannot work at a medical or adult use dispensary in Nevada if you’ve been convicted of an excluded felony offense. Excluded offenses include a crime of violence or a violation of a state or federal law pertaining to controlled substances.


Arizona: Arizona restricts individuals with a marijuana-related felony conviction within the last ten years from owning, operating, serving as a director, or working in a medical marijuana dispensary.



Colorado: Having a felony conviction does NOT automatically disqualify you from working at a dispensary in Colorado. The MED will still consider character references and not base their decision exclusively on an applicant’s record. 


Washington: Those with a felony conviction are still able to apply for a business license or job at a cannabis dispensary. However, individual businesses may still require background checks for employment.



Oregon: If you apply for a Marijuana Worker Permit in Oregon and have a felony conviction for possession, manufacture, or delivery of a controlled substance within three years before the Commission received your application, it may be denied.


Illinois: Depending on the type of felony conviction, you will likely still be able to work a dispensary if you are otherwise qualified.



Maryland: Prospective registered dispensary agents in Maryland cannot be registered by the Commission if they have a felony drug offense in their record.


Ohio: Dispensaries in Ohio are prohibited from employing anyone with a prior felony conviction related to controlled substances.



Missouri: Anyone with a disqualifying felony is not permitted to work in the cannabis industry in Missouri. However, the types of felony offenses are not specified, and marijuana offenses eligible for expungement are exempted.



Oklahoma: People with a felony record can still work at a dispensary in Oklahoma. However, obtaining a cannabis license with a felony record is more complex compared to having a clean record.



Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Department of Health retains the right to deny employment based on background check results indicating a criminal offense related to the sale or possession of illegal drugs, narcotics, or controlled substances.


Can I work at a dispensary with a criminal record? 


For those with a criminal history that does not include a felony, like a misdemeanor, finding work in the cannabis industry will be much easier. 

Typically, non-felony criminal records (depending on the charge) will not disqualify you from working at a dispensary. 


Dispensary jobs for people with felony records


If your state does not allow anyone with a felony to grow, process, or sell cannabis – there are still some dispensary jobs you may be allowed to have.


Dispensaries are always hiring for non-plant touching roles such as maintenance, janitorial, or even marketing jobs. If you’re passionate about working in the industry, this is a great place to get started. Regulations are always changing and they may shift in your favor in the future. 


Get online cannabis training, regardless of your record


THC University is the most accessible online cannabis training program available. Anyone can sign up and just about everyone can afford it. Take classes at your own pace and get the training you deserve today.

Check out our course catalog here.