Reaching a Millennial Cannabis Workforce

Roughly defined as people born between 1981 and 1996, the millennial generation is now the largest age group in American history, and amounts to 35% of today’s workforce.

As cannabis businesses continue to adopt common workforce management practices, from defining company values to enforcing standard operating procedures, understanding millennial employees becomes a key differentiator in effective growth. This generation is challenging the way employers recruit and retain talent as well as how they communicate, engage and quite simply, work with people.

Critics of millennials say they are the most over-gratified generation, resulting in an unjustifiable sense of entitlement. A heavy reliance on technology and habit of updating every activity on social media leads older generations to feel generally disappointed in what they see as ​lack of self-sufficiency and hard work.

Despite strong opinions, this generation is rapidly dominating the workforce, especially in the cannabis industry. And, they bring innovative suggestions, creative insights and a wealth of knowledge in technology and medicine. From budtender to director level positions, marijuana millennials are seizing the opportunity to be part of a nascent industry while learning the intricacies of startup world.

The objective for cannabis operators is recognizing how to work with millennials. Understanding their motivations, being flexible and thinking of ways to leverage their high-speed energy are ways to attract and keep this generation.

Attract top millennial cannabis talent

76% of millennials surveyed prefer a career they are passionate about over another that is paying more. This generation wants to know that they are contributing to something that carries an impact. From giving back to the community, to advocating for social justice, to providing legal medicine to those in need, millennials want to make a difference.

Quickly communicate your big picture goals and internal values to job candidates on your website. Show how your company rallies together for volunteer events or donates to local charity on social media. Interview current millennial employees about their experience at your company or why they entered the marijuana industry to give better insight into the culture you’ve created.

Support a workforce accustomed to rapid change

Millennials are constantly looking for opportunities to learn and grow, so it’s important to define expectations early and develop a cadence to measure performance. Support development of both salaried and hourly employees with progress assessments and annual, or quarterly reviews.

Avoid turnover by providing competitive pay rates, offering health benefits, and working around your staff’s schedule. Creating a digital schedule that accommodates your budtender or trimmer’s personal life will allow employees to work with you when they’re at their best.

Enable employees to further their career development through certified training programs with leaders like Trichome Institute or CannabisTrainers. Or schedule internal events with product vendors so staff can gain sales knowledge, network with fellow industry members, and enjoy the perks of giveaways.

Encourage their out-of-the-box mindset

Millennials are excited to work on projects that may seem risky or extraordinary, so it’s important to listen to new ideas, which may greatly benefit the organization. This generation can bring competitive, thought-provoking cannabis concepts inspired by current events, cultural trends, or even social movements.

A leading skillset of the millennial generation is their training in and familiarity with a variety of technology platforms to drive new customers, project manage, crunch numbers or develop custom systems. This proves useful in managing internal processes and comes in handy when launching brand campaigns or thought leadership opportunities with fast timelines.

The future of cannabis is bright. Engaging the millennial workforce is a vital step in ensuring your continued success.

Growing Your Cannabis Company From Seed to Success

Source: DOPE Magazine
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Canopy Boulder
Canopy Boulder is a self-described seed-stage business accelerator focused on ancillary products and services in the legal cannabis industry.

Patrick Rea, CEO and co-founder at Canopy Accelerator, likens Canopy’s 16-week mentor-driven “boot-camp” accelerator program to that of “securing a micro-MBA in your own business, studying marketing, sales management practices, venture finance, financial modeling and more.” Canopy provides mentees with capital, access to a considerable network of industry leaders, and acute industry knowledge, in return for an equity stake of up to nine and a half percent.

Canopy Boulder mentors including Steve DeAngelo (Harborside), Emily Paxhia (Poseidon), Daniela Vergara (Agricultural Genomics Foundation), Keegan Peterson (Wurk), Alain Bankier (New York Angel Group), Jessica Billingsley (MJ Freeway) and Josh Kappel (Vicente Sederberg) comprise countless cannabis success stories.

Cannabis advocates urge lawmakers to tackle tax provision


Representatives of the cannabis industry are ramping up their lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to take action on taxes that affect their industry.

The main request in meetings with members of Congress this week: overturning a regulation that prevents legal cannabis companies, in particular, from deducting operating expenses.

Members of the industry have been disappointed that the GOP tax overhaul passed in December did not clear away the regulation. And while many don’t expect legislative action this year, given the fall midterm elections, industry advocates are holding out hope for Democratic-sponsored bills that could see movement in 2019.

“Right now, cannabis is emerging at the fastest growing industry in America, and these are brand new jobs,” said Keegan Peterson, whose company Wurk helps cannabis businesses comply with various regulations. “The ability of the industry to grow and provide medicines to the people who need them depends [on] good tax laws.”

In terms of taxes, the main legislation the cannabis industry is supporting is the Small Business Tax Equity Act. The legislation targets a line in the tax code, put in place in 1982, that prohibits businesses from deducting a broad array of expenses if they are “trafficking in controlled substances.”

That means that companies operating legally in states that allow recreational or medicinal marijuana get stuck with a far higher federal tax bill than other businesses.

“Legal marijuana businesses should have the same tax treatment as any other business. Unfortunately, our outdated tax code penalizes marijuana businesses for complying with the law,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the lead sponsor of the Senate’s version of the bill.

Industry representatives are hopeful for action. In three days of lobbying this week, members of the National Cannabis Industry Association met with an eclectic group of lawmakers. They’ve found allies in offices including Wyden, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), among others.

“Bottom line is this: There’s a natural alliance between liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans on this issue,” said Tom Adams, managing director of the Investment Research Division of BDS Analytics, which produces market trend reports for the cannabis industry.

Curbelo, who introduced the House version of the bill, has argued that the tax burden ends up being a boon to illegal drug operators, giving them a cost advantage over legal sellers.

“Current federal law also prohibits these businesses from deducting the common expenses associated with running a small business when they file their taxes — expenses necessary to running a business like rent, most utilities and payroll,” Curbelo said on the House floor earlier this year.

“Simply put, this rule places legitimate enterprises, which have been established under state law, at a major competitive disadvantage,” he continued.

Broadly, cannabis businesses can’t deduct operating costs, though they are able to deduct expenses related to the cost of the goods themselves.

“They ruled, oddly, that you can deduct the cost of the illegal product, but not your operating expenses. That seems to be exactly backwards,” said Adams.

According to Adams, a straightforward reading of the law would stick average cannabis retailers with a federal tax bill of 23 percent of revenues, which is higher than the 18 percent in revenue that firms take home in profit on average.

But cannabis businesses have ways of trying to skirt the law, cordoning off portions of the business that don’t deal directly with the product in order to classify their operating expenses differently.

“What retailers are generally doing is adopting a practice called absorption, in which you absorb as much of your operation into your cost of goods, or as much as you can get away with,” Adams said.

That strategy helps bring the average bill down to 17 percent of revenues. Repealing the particular line of the tax code altogether and allowing companies to fully deduct their operations, however, would slash their federal tax bill to just 6 percent of revenues.

But doing so would also mean less money in the Treasury. In 2017, the cannabis industry took in $8.6 billion revenues, meaning that eliminating the rule would vaporize almost $1 billion in tax revenue.

Peterson argued that the move would help the industry flourish, however, creating new jobs and reducing the fiscal impact.

“Yes, there is a disincentive because the government is getting to tax more. On the flipside, these businesses can’t stick around forever with this level of tax, so if we don’t make it easier for them to do their business, they’re going to go away,” he said.

Read the full story

Payroll processing for the modern cannabis business

Manage complex payroll, timekeeping and HR processes in one platform created specifically for marijuana companies.

It’s no secret that the marijuana industry carries high demands for your entire team, especially your payroll and HR professionals. From complying with cannabis enforcement, local, state and federal agencies to managing a growing workforce, it’s easy to understand that you might be feeling overwhelmed and overworked.

Beyond the intricacies of running a cannabis operation, your lack of time, money, resources and/or technology make addressing your business goals a challenge. It’s possible that by choosing the right payroll technology, created specifically for the marijuana market, some of those barriers can be removed.

Automate a complex process

We know you have to hustle and sometimes cut corners to run your business, which may mean processing payroll with outdated, manual processes. Or you might outsource the job to your cannabis accountant, which not only costs money, but restricts your control and insights.

Nearly 30% of companies are using payroll processing systems that are 10 years old or older. Outdated systems require customization and expensive maintenance to stay current with labor laws and regulations.

A modern Human Capital Management (HCM) platform can not only automate the payroll process, reducing errors and easing your administrative burden, it can also help you control labor costs and improve employee productivity. A cannabis payroll system allows you to run reports – payroll, register, labor distribution, general ledger, and more – before finalizing and submitting payroll to help ensure accurate results. Plus, reflect your unique business requirements and workflows by defining all steps in the payroll process.

Ease compliance concerns

When asked which regulations concern payroll professionals the the most*, respondents named their top five as:

  • FLSA overtime regulations (64%)
  • Constantly evolving tax regulations and rates (62%)
  • Paid sick leave (43%)
  • ACA (42%)
  • FMLA (39%)

Further, 54% of those surveyed said they are concerned about managing multiple state and local regulations. With the constant increase in new laws, not to mention the plethora of other cannabis-specific regulations, you can’t spend valuable time configuring systems to ensure your protection. Modern payroll and HCM software allows you to handle the changes with assurance that rules will be updated and calculations accurate without the need for manual processes.

Access a single source of truth

Time and time again, clients come to us frustrated with the amount of software systems they are piecing together to manage payroll, timekeeping, and human resources. This causes an unnecessary burden for the whole team as well as inconsistencies in data. With one platform, you’re able to access all employee data, manage documentation in one-place, and implement standardized HR processes, significantly reducing workload for your management.

In subscribing to a cloud-based payroll processing software as opposed to patching together a framework of systems or relying on a PEO service, you have total access to robust data management giving you fast metrics so you can focus on growing your business and saving money.

Wurk’s payroll, timekeeping and HR system is specifically for the cannabis industry. Reach out to our team for a demo today.

*The 2017 APA Trendline Survey

It’s Dumb to Think Legalizing Weed Is Still a Political Issue

What was once a red and blue issue has now attracted a growing set of proponents from both sides of the aisle. Here’s what that could mean for regulation of legal cannabis in the U.S.

Source: The Street
By Kinsey Grant
Apr 23, 2018

Even just a decade ago, many of those who supported widespread legalization of marijuana carried a heavy stereotype: left-leaning hippies who only wanted legal pot so they could smoke it freely.

But today, that characterization couldn’t be further from the truth as money starts to flow into the cannabis space. There are 29 states in the U.S. that have some form of medical and/or recreational weed legalized. The international cannabis industry is now worth about $7.7 billion and is expected to grow to as much as $30 billion by 2021.

Those figures illustrate a reality both Republicans and Democrats can get behind — legal weed makes a lot of money. Recent estimates from New Frontier Data suggest cannabis could create $104.5 billion in federal tax revenue and 1 million new jobs by 2021.

If you still think that legalizing pot at the federal level is a political issue, you’re among the dumbest on Wall Street.

A record 64% of Americans polled by Gallup think marijuana should be made legal across the U.S., and a record 45% of Americans have tried marijuana. A massive 70% of people are in favor of medical use pot. And 50% of people said marijuana isn’t a problem in their area.

Among young Americans aged 18 to 29 years, 49% of Democrats support legalizing weed, while 50% of Republicans oppose it, according to data from Harvard University. As the gap between the two grows smaller, some of marijuana’s biggest proponents have come out of the woodwork from both sides of the aisle, signaling a remarkable shift in sentiment.

Last week, Acreage Holdings, one of the largest cannabis holding companies in the U.S., announced that former Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner is joining its advisory board. That’s the same Ohio republican who once said he was “unalterably opposed” to marijuana legalization.

“My thinking on cannabis has evolved,” Boehner said in a tweet following the announcement. “I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”

And last week, Senate Majority Leader and hardline Republican Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he wants to legalize hemp, a non-psychoactive byproduct of cannabis plants. While hemp can’t get you high like marijuana can, and is typically used as a fiber in manufacturing, it’s a step in a direction that many might not have seen coming from the senator.

And even those who oppose legalization appear to do so with relative ambivalence: “Among conservatives, many who believe marijuana should be illegal nonetheless support states’ right to legalize it and take a dim view of government’s ability to enforce a ban,” Brookings Institution found.

“This is a bipartisan issue,” said Keegan Peterson, CEO of Wurk, a workforce management company designed specifically for the cannabis industry. “It’s small business supporting small business.”

Keegan Peterson Quote

“People are getting more comfortable with the risk profile,” Peterson said. “Everyone, regardless of their political stance, is going to want to be a part of this,” Peterson said. With that, legal weed isn’t a political issue — it’s a business opportunity.

The prevailing theory is that there won’t be a rescheduling or deregulation of marijuana so long as President Donald Trump is in the White House. “Where we lie today is exactly where we’ll lie until there’s a new administration,” Peterson said.

But even Trump, who is viewed among industry insiders as something of a shirker when it comes to this specific issue, has shown leniency. After Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said in January he would block all Justice Department nominations when Attorney General Jeff Sessions targeted the legal weed space, President Trump last week called Gardner and told him he will support congressional efforts to protect states with already-legal marijuana.

“We have states now that have legalized it and show that this actually works,” Peterson said. “To me in the next 10 years we’re going to see federal legalization.”

He explained that if the federal government were to make a move toward criminalizing marijuana any further, there would be “such a backlash” from states with regulated cannabis laws that it might actually help push federal deregulation forward.

“They’re just throwing gas on the fire now,” Peterson said.

Read the full article.

Cannabis Payroll Problems Run Deep

Original piece from

Earlier this year, the federal government spiked anxieties for legal marijuana businesses. Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions issued a memo that seems to ramp up the White House’s marijuana crackdown, challenging earlier issuance that hinted at a more lenient federal approach to cannabis.

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribunal and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” AG Sessions said in the memo, which revoked the Cole Memo — previous guidelines that supported legal marijuana businesses’ operation at the state level.

It caught the Treasury Department, which oversees financial services regulation for the cannabis sector via its FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) branch, off-guard.

Last month, President Donald Trump vowed to support congressional lawmakers’ efforts to protect states that have legalized marijuana. And while reports in The Washington Post said the situation was thus “diffused,” the saga was a disruptive reminder that the regulatory landscape for marijuana companies — often small businesses (SMBs) — remains unclear, in flux and risky.

Those same risks apply for financial service providers too, which have largely left legal marijuana companies to operate entirely on cash. The typical reasoning behind this is that, because banks are regulated by federal law, and because federal law classifies marijuana as illegal, financial institutions (FIs) are unable to provide financial services to marijuana businesses even if they are legal under state law.

But the reality of the FinServ regulatory environment is more complicated, said Keegan Peterson, founder and CEO of Wurk, a company that provides HR services to highly regulated industries, including the cannabis sector.

He recently told PYMNTS that the federal government does not have to legalize marijuana in order for businesses to get banked.

“Those are separate issues,” he said. “They don’t necessarily have to happen together.”

Part of Wurk’s service portfolio includes payroll. Peterson explained that its payroll service varies depending on the customer.

“To be able to qualify for our payroll service, the company has to already be banked,” he said. “We have our banked and our unbanked customers. Our unbanked customers use our system to calculate payroll and taxes — and then they have to remit in cash. We can process payroll and taxes for our banked clients.”

This service is proof that legal marijuana companies can indeed get banked. According to Peterson, the FIs that agree to service these firms are typically state-level banks that are not FDIC-insured. These institutions have figured out how to remain compliant while navigating the risks of the cannabis market — which are vast, added Peterson, and account for why so many marijuana businesses remain unbanked.

Know your customer (KYC) regulations are front and center, he explained.

“Banks are liable for anything that happens within the bank. They have to know your customer — and know your customer’s customer,” he explained. “They need to run compliance. A lot of them do facility checks. They do seed-to-sale reports to make sure dollars were legally earned. There is a whole lot of compliance that goes into being able to bank one of these customers. It’s very labor-intensive.”

All of this means fees are passed on to the cannabis business customer, which Peterson said are typically much higher than they would be for a traditional business, rendering bank services unaffordable even to marijuana businesses that could access them.

Further, financial institutions rarely find it profitable to go through the hassle of servicing these companies, the CEO added. Because this industry is so high-risk, their capital and liquidity requirements are high too. FIs are required to pool cash to back up the liability of servicing a marijuana business, and because of that risk, Peterson explained, banks cannot loan out the money they take from these business customers.

“So, they can’t make money on that money,” he said, adding that FIs can only profit from these companies through high fees. “Because of these intricacies of cannabis, there is a lot less opportunity to get banked. That’s what we see more often than not: There are not enough banks right now to support the need in the industry.”

This, naturally, forces major risks on cash-reliant marijuana companies. The risk of robbery, not only for business owners but for employees getting paid in cash, spikes exponentially for unbanked businesses, Peterson said.

“If someone knows when payday is, employees are very susceptible to getting held up,” he said. “It creates a very unsafe environment.”

Business owners also struggle with cash flow management, accounting, recordkeeping, reconciliation, accounts payable and accounts receivable — the list goes on — all because transactions and reporting have to be done manually.

The current regulatory environment impacts marijuana businesses in other ways than just forcing them to be entirely reliant on cash.

“The challenge of this business is they can’t comply with the law right now,” he said. “We’re imposing laws on people [that] have no ability to conform to them.”

He cited the Affordable Care Act, which requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide benefit plans.

“If you don’t have a bank account, there is no benefit carrier that’s going to back you. You can’t pay a benefit carrier in cash,” the CEO said, noting that similarly, these businesses cannot pay workers comp insurance providers in cash either.

The muddled, volatile regulatory landscape is a massive challenge for financial service providers, marijuana businesses and companies like Wurk, but Peterson said this industry has to collaborate with lawmakers.

“We have to help educate legislators on what’s going on,” he said. “We have an interesting perspective because we’re helping people get paid.”

Peterson said the Treasury’s reaction to AG Sessions’ memo earlier this year was a positive one that showed (at least some) federal legislators are in favor of reducing companies’ reliance on cash and the risks that come with it. But there are no guarantees when it comes to predicting the regulatory future of cannabis, and service providers have to be flexible, he said.

“It’s hard to say where we’re going to be,” said Peterson. “There doesn’t seem to be a political incentive to legalize [marijuana] for the current administration. I think right now politicians are afraid to make a big move. As soon as we get to the point where lawmakers don’t feel like they are the sole responsible person for legislation, we’ll start seeing things move quickly. But we’re a bit aways from that, unfortunately.”

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Wurk Raises $3.2 Million in Funding to Facilitate Further Expansion

Company plans to invest in additional build-out of its cannabis labor management technology.

DENVER, April 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Wurk, the first and only workforce management company for the cannabis industry, today announced that it has raised $3.2 million in a bridge funding round. The funding round included participation from both new and returning investors, including Poseidon Asset Management, which led the round, as well as Phyto Partners, Altitude Investment Partners, Arcview Investor Network and Arcadian Fund.

The company plans to utilize its funding to make key strategic hires and further build-out its cannabis labor management technology. The platform is designed to scale nationally with the growth of the cannabis industry, while incorporating the local laws and regulations unique to each individual state.

“The cannabis industry has made huge strides since Wurk was founded in 2015, making the jump from a fringe economy into a legitimate industry,” said Keegan Peterson, Founder and CEO of Wurk. “As the industry continues to grow, companies in the space need legitimate HR infrastructures to protect what they’ve built, set themselves up for growth and enable future expansion. We’ve worked hard to be the first and only company to provide that infrastructure and look forward to using our latest round of investment to continue to fulfill the industry’s ever-increasing demand.”

“After participating in Wurk’s previous two funding rounds, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to invest in the company yet again,” said Emily Paxhia, Managing Partner at Poseidon Asset Management. “As investors focused on the cannabis space, we regularly see the HR, accounting, and tax challenges that cannabis startups face on a frequent basis. Wurk’s solution helps ease that massive burden on the industry and creates a huge investment opportunity in doing so.”

The company, which helps cannabis companies manage payroll, human resources, timekeeping, scheduling and tax compliance, streamlines operations and minimizes compliance risks in the ever-changing cannabis regulatory environment. The company uses its expertise with local and national agencies to automate the complex paperwork process involved on clients’ behalf.

About Wurk
Wurk exists to help underserved cannabis businesses fortify, comply, and thrive in the face of uncertain regulatory environments. The platform allows employers to protect and streamline their operations while providing an environment where employees are a priority every step of the way. The intuitive, all-in-one solution automates the most complicated and risk-prone processes with recruiting, scheduling, and payroll. For more information visit

California Cannabis Cultivation & Excise Tax

Join Würk and California Cannabis CPA as we discuss the new cultivation and excise taxes specific to California cannabis operators. This free webinar provides an overview of the cannabis taxes in California, how they apply to your business, how to calculate the tax, who collects/remits the tax, when are they due and more. Understand how compliance with this new tax requirement will help your business avoid penalties and fees.

Powerpoint slides available to view here.


Wurk delivers tools to help cannabis industry manage business

A growing startup, Wurk, markets an HR software platform for the cannabis industry that handles the complex payroll, compliance and workforce management needs of the business.

You won’t find a major HR tech vendor that sells software aimed at the fast-growing cannabis industry. A startup called Wurk decided to fill that vacuum.

CEO Keegan Peterson, 32, a young veteran of several HR tech vendors, founded Wurk in 2014 to serve the unusual personnel management needs of cannabis growers, labs, distributors and retailers.

Perhaps understandably, Wurk doesn’t like to release the names of its clients because of the still-turbulent legal and political atmosphere surrounding marijuana legalization.

For example, while marijuana for medical and recreational use is now legal in 30 states and Washington, D.C., federal law still prohibits it. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January 2018 rescinded Obama-era rules discouraging U.S. attorneys from enforcing the federal law in states where marijuana is legal.

Even so, business is good for the vendor based in Boulder, Colo., Peterson told SearchHRSoftware.

The U.S. cannabis industry has about 200,000 workers now and is expected to grow to a workforce of some 500,000 by 2020, according to Peterson.

Wurk’s SaaS-delivered software is built to help cannabis businesses navigate the often fiendishly complex and seemingly constantly changing laws affecting their operation and be able to reliably pay their employees.

“The real challenge with payroll is the way companies traditionally move money doesn’t necessarily work for the cannabis industry, so there have to be new systems in place that could support high-risk industries, like cannabis,” Peterson said.

The vast majority of mainstream banks won’t handle money for cannabis businesses, so Wurk’s payroll platform is configured to process payments through “cannabis banks.” An example is Partner Colorado, a former small credit union that has grown into a leading bank for the marijuana industry. (Wurk declined to name the cannabis banks it works with.)

“It’s very unique. We have to write contracts differently. We have to do payroll differently. We have to think of the operations of our clients differently,” Peterson said.

Wurk relies on three law firms it retains to advise the company on compliance issues. In turn, Wurk helps its customers comply with each marijuana-legal state’s particular laws.

Read the full article here.

Employee Handbooks That Drive Compliance & Culture

Communicate your culture, set expectations, and protect your business.
Würk’s Certified HR Consultant, Keith Axelrod, discusses the importance of developing an employee handbook to drive compliance and company culture during this recorded webinar. From employee orientation and time management, to regulatory requirements, Keith takes the time to explain the benefits of having a handbook as well as the unique protections it provides in the cannabis industry. Understand:

– Why you need an employee handbook in the cannabis industry
– Some of the most critical policies to include
– Legal compliance aspects of the handbook
– How to use the handbook to deliver your culture and values

Powerpoint slides available to view here.

Employee Handbooks that Drive Compliance & Culture from Wurk on Vimeo.