New Missouri Bill Would Expand Background Checks for the Cannabis Industry

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New Missouri Bill Would Expand Background Checks for the Cannabis Industry
May 31, 2023

Early May 2023, the Missouri Senate passed legislation that would require workers in the cannabis industry to submit fingerprint background checks. This requirement would include all industry employees, contractors, and volunteers. In addition, the legislation intends to revise the background check process for facilities that care for children, such as child care and schools.

In November last year, Missouri voters passed a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana. This amendment included a provision requiring the owners of cannabis companies to submit their fingerprints to the state’s Highway Patrol for a criminal background check. However, it did not include workers. 

Though their employees also submitted criminal background checks to the state’s Highway Patrol, they omitted fingerprinting. However, Senate Bill 40 would require all owners, employees, contractors, and volunteers at marijuana facilities to submit their fingerprints for state and federal criminal background checks. This bill also made similar changes to background check processes for schools and childcare facilities.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Holly Thompson Rehder, believes the changes will align Missouri with federal regulations. Currently, the federal government offers no rules for the marijuana industry. This outcome is because marijuana remains federally illegal. Despite this difference in laws, it has provided limited guidance for state regulators.

After the 32-2 Senate vote, the measure must wait for the governor’s signature. So far, the bill has received support from the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services. Missouri’s Cannabis Trade Association, representing business owners and industry professionals, also supports the measure.

So far, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. In addition, 40 states have legalized medical marijuana. However, background check regulations for workers in the cannabis industry across these states vary considerably. As a result, some states have more stringent and comprehensive requirements than others.

For example, California requires owners to undergo fingerprint-based criminal background checks. This requirement means their employees do not need fingerprint-based checks. However, Arizona requires this process for owners, board members, employees, and volunteers. Based on these differences, Missouri will join the stricter states with its modified legislation.

Regardless of the industry, employers will find it crucial to run criminal background checks on their employees. In the cannabis industry, this check ensures their employees are respectable and trustworthy around substances. In other industries, the screening ensures safe and respectful work environments. Employers should work with a reliable background check provider to provide accurate and compliant screening.

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