An Executive Order issued by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker Thursday evening gave cannabis dispensary operators some much needed breathing room on employee badging, a problem that had been building to crisis levels, according to operators.
“Yesterday, we had hired in Illinois about 70 people, 50 for dispensaries. Twenty-nine were waiting for their starting date, which tells me they were still waiting for their credentials,” said PharmaCann Senior Vice President of Public and Regulatory affairs, Jeremy Unruh, on Friday.
Thursday’s order suspends requirements that cannabis dispensary agents wait for badges issued by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) before they can begin work. Previously, dispensary operators needed to submit paperwork to IDPFR, receive clearance for each dispensary agent, and then wait for an IDPFR contractor to print the employee badge and mail it to the dispensary. Now, dispensaries only need to submit paperwork to IDPFR and obtain their clearance before employees can begin work.
“Part of the problem was exacerbated by the licensed fingerprint vendors, they were delayed.” Said Unruh. “It was hard beforehand, but it was even harder in the Covid-19 environment.”
Thursday’s executive order also suspended the state’s plan to issue 75 more dispensary licences the next day, May 1. Pritzker’s office had unofficially announced that action on Wednesday, the addition of the badging order was an unexpected move, according to industry insiders.
For big and small dispensaries, badging had become a serious problem.
“We had [a] situation for three months to get an agent badge for a particular applicant,” said Chris Wildrick, co-owner of Herbal Remedies in Quincy, Illinois. “We can’t start training them, our hands are totally tied. When somebody is seeking employment, we fortunately didn’t lose that applicant, but we were very vulnerable because it was taking so long.”
“I would say onboarding delays have consistently meant we were maintaining five few staffers than we should have,” said Zach Zeiss co-owner of Dispensary 33 in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. “We were conservative about hiring because who knew what our needs would be several weeks down the line – everything is changing much faster than that. Now, we know we can hire as we need to and stay adaptive to changes among our staff, so we will definitely be onboarding a few folks right away.”