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Policy Advocacy

Protecting Workers in the Emerging Cannabis Industry

In 2016 Californians voted to legalize the possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana through Proposition 64. As a result, Cal/OSHA convened an advisory committee to evaluate the need to develop industry-specific regulations for licensed cannabis establishments. Since January, Cal/OSHA has been meeting with stakeholders and reviewing comments from organizations like Worksafe, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee, and UFCW Western States Council. Cal/OSHA recently published their recommendations at the Standards Board Meeting in San Diego. 

Their report cited stakeholder's comments, including UFCW and Worksafe's concerns about secondhand smoke exposure and workplace violence. Cal/OSHA's final recommendation is that the Standards Board undertake rulemaking to amend title 8 section 5148, prohibiting the smoking of cannabis within the enclosed spaces where employees work. Additionally, Cal/OSHA recommended that the Standards Board assist in the rulemaking effort.

With respect to other occupational health and safety concerns, Cal/OSHA referred to existing standards and regulations pertaining to fire safety, repetitive strain injuries, injury and illness prevention programs, emergency regulations, and the forthcoming general industry standard on workplace violence. Worksafe remains concerned that these general standards on workplace violence will not be sufficient to protect workers in the cannabis industry. The high prevalence of cash transactions in the industry leaves workers at risk of workplace violence such as robbery.