Earlier this week we sent an open letter to the OLCC asking them to get real about workplace violence in cannabis. For the last 6 months, Oregon’s cannabis industry has been hit by countless robberies and there is still little action being taken on the State level. This is an issue that we all care about and as a fellow Oregonian who loves cannabis, we need your help! Read the letter we sent to OLCC, if you agree with our requests, stand in solidarity by signing our petition.
Proposed Initiatives to Reduce Workplace Violence and to Promote Improved Systems of Safety
Dear Chair, Commissioners, and Executive Director:
In light of the tragic murder of beloved Cured Greens budtender Michael Arthur on December 14th, 2020, we the Cannabis Workers Coalition, supporters of all essential Oregon cannabis workers, feel it is time to make actionable changes to strengthen the safety regulations for workers in cannabis.
As supporters of all essential Oregon cannabis workers, we are committed to supporting our community and we would like to respectfully submit this open letter to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
It is our hope that we may join together to modify current regulation so that we can effectively protect essential cannabis workers who provide Oregonians’ safe access to cannabis products during the pandemic.
This letter is split into two sections, the first being an argument in favor of improved systems of safety that will reduce workplace violence, and the second containing specific proposals for rule changes to enhance and promote a safe working environment for the cannabis industry.
A. Cannabis Retail Workers Have a Right to a Safe Workplace
In May 2020, 47 dispensaries were burglarized in Portland, Oregon.
According to the “Calls for Services and Reported Offenses Report” from the Portland Police Bureau in June 2020, the percentage of burglaries in Portland increased by 46%.
At this rate, dispensaries in the city are targeted by break-ins every other night. Due to thousands of Oregonians utilizing recreational and medicinal cannabis during the pandemic, there is no doubt that these retailers are essential businesses during the shelter-in-place order.
We are asking that the OLCC recognize the need for increased safety measures for employees that face high rates of workplace violence due to cannabis being a cash-only business.
There is a disconnect between business owners, the employees, and the OLCC.
The current laws and policies in place are designed to protect the products and not the people handling them. Under the law, cameras must capture video footage in all areas housing marijuana plants, usable marijuana, cannabinoid concentrates, extracts, products, or waste. Cameras also must cover all points of ingress and egress to and from areas where establishments keep marijuana plants, concentrates, extracts, products, or waste.
B. Proposed Rule Changes.
Attached proposal for modifications intended to assist the Commission in developing amendments to rule changes that will increase safety measures for retail licensee employees when serving customers. In summary, these proposed changes remove any security waiver during the license application process and mandates alarm systems in all retail licensed locations.
If we all come together in this time of crisis we can create a safe environment for cannabis businesses to operate in, cannabis workers to work in, and for Oregonians to safely access cannabis products.
It is our urgent hope that you all consider adopting some or all of our suggestions for changes that will prevent future workplace violence, like we witnessed in the senseless murder of Michael Arthur.
In addition to the proposed rule changes, we also request The Commission:
- Amend the “Business Readiness Guidebook for Oregon Recreational Marijuana Operations” to include State-required security mandates and include examples of past security plans businesses could model from.
- Amend the Oregon Cannabis Retailers License Applications’ Security Plan requirements to include specifically how a business will protect the physical safety of employees.
- Enact a temporary ruling allowing the visual confirmation of identity of customers visiting cannabis retailers during the Coronavirus Pandemic’s mask mandate.
- Advocate for specialized cannabis competency training for State and Local police officers to reduce harm of stigmatization.
We look forward to uniting towards the common goal of creating a safe and legal working environment for workers in cannabis.
Cannabis Workers Coalition