The cannabis workers protection bill is moving swiftly through the California Assembly.
At a hearing today, members of the Business and Professions Committee voted to move the bill forward after brief testimony from its sponsor, the UFCW Western States Council. The Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment will hear the bill next.
“Last fall, The Center for Investigative Reporting uncovered horrendous practices by some cannabis operators, taking complete advantage of farmworkers, especially young women, who were working in isolated environments, making them vulnerable to physical abuse and harassment,” said Sam Rodriguez, the council’s legislative director. “Working with the industry, we identified an online Cal/OSHA (another name for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health) course to help both employer and employees become aware of existing law.”
Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, introduced the bill in response to an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting that uncovered widespread sexual harassment and abuse of female workers in California’s marijuana-growing industry. Reveal found that migrant workers, known as trimmigrants, are particularly vulnerable to abuse.
The bill would require marijuana business owners to put at least one employee through a 30-hour state training program within one year of receiving a license. It’s an education that many in the industry believe growers and workers desperately need. Even as marijuana growers come out of the shadows and apply for state licensure, many remain unaware of their requirements under the law.
“It’s a great first step,” said Roy Sianez, Cooper’s legislative director. “Having that employee go through the training – they become the eyes and the ears.”