Colorado has been leading the way in recreational marijuana policy since it was first legalized there in 2012. From the beginning, the state has been through the gamut of experiences with every area of the industry and continued to refine the law in order to get it to be as close to perfect as possible. Now the Colorado Department of Health and Environment have released a 79 page detailed guide on worker rights and safety for those who work in the marijuana industry. The guide covers all regulations including labor laws, workers’ compensation, hazardous waste, fire codes and the Colorado Pesticide Applicator’s Act.
A Supplementary Guide for the Marijuana Industry
The guide was created by the Colorado Marijuana Occupational Health and Safety Work Group, a committee with over 40 members with expertise in various departments including safety, medicine, and public health. It took approximately 2 years to complete. It doesn’t replace the current regulations handed down by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration but rather works alongside it to allow the marijuana industry the ability to work as well as possible.
“Slips, trips and falls are hazards common to every industry, but the marijuana industry has special considerations,” explained Roberta Smith, Occupational Health Program Manager at CDHE to The Denverite. “For example, fires and explosions can occur during production of marijuana extracts and lead to fatal injuries.”
Setting a Standard for Other Recreational Marijuana States
With California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska in legalizing recreational marijuana, 1/5 of the country has or is developing a recreational marijuana industry. The safety and protection of the workers who go to make up this billion dollar industry is coming under light more and more. Colorado and Washington, who also legalized marijuana in 2012, have set the standard for marijuana policy across the whole country and the latest regulations will be no exception.
A Lack of Safety Regulations Within the Industry
All cultivation, retail and testing facilities that have over 10 employees will be made to record and report on work related injuries and fatalities. Currently, since there are no set codes created for the marijuana industry under The North American Industry Classification System, there is no way for state agencies to know how it is doing as far as health and safety goes within the workplace. According to OSHA, 3 marijuana related companies received fines for workplace safety violations since 2012 but other than that it has been fairly unregulated until now.
As acceptance for the marijuana industry grows, other organizations and private sector entities have started to become aware of the need to have marijuana-specific regulations. According to The Cannabist, last year, a nonprofit called the National Fire Protection Association, which is in charge of creating codes and standards for fire safety, also added a chapter on marijuana cultivation and processing facilities in it’s NFPA 1, Fire Code manual. Making the marijuana industry safe and strong is in the best interests of every state that has legalized it and this new guide is sure to give more security to the workers in the industry.