Editor's Note: ‘An emerging industry’
The legalization of marijuana is a topic that generates strong opinions – as well as strong concerns about the potential hazards of cannabis use among workers in safety-sensitive positions. Safety+Health published an article on the topic in April. But this month, we’re exploring a different angle: The safety of workers employed in the rapidly expanding legal cannabis industry.
When Associate Editor Barry Bottino and I talked about this assignment, we knew we’d likely make some people unhappy. In 2017, after we published a news brief about a study that found many cannabis workers lack safety training, a commenter objected to our coverage, noting that cannabis is still illegal under federal law. If anyone is disappointed by this month’s article, I respectfully point to the words of Kenny H., who responded to the first reader’s comment with the following (abridged here for length): “I am not surprised, however, about the NSC posting an article about the safety and health of workers in any field of employment, regardless of the industry. The OSH Act spells out very dutifully in Section 5(a)(1) that ‘Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards … .’ The rules don’t pick and choose employers who they think should abide by these guidelines. ALL employers are required to abide.”
It’s not our intent to take a stance on whether cannabis should or should not be legal. Rather, we’re publishing this article in acknowledgment of the existence of what Kenny H. further described as “an emerging industry that needs to quickly get a handle on protecting its workforce.” Thanks for listening.