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Michelle Grewe

The Washington State Department of Agriculture has released a set of worker protection recommendations for the cannabis industry.

The document, entitled “Worker Protection Standards (WPS): Requirements for Marijuana Growers,” was developed in response to the growth of the cannabis industry there.

Normally, worker protection standards in the agricultural sector are created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this case, USDA officials are prohibited from inspecting and certifying cannabis working standards because they must defer to federal law. As such, no federal guidelines exist for cannabis worker protection standards, despite more than half of states’ having legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

Washington, in a move that will hopefully ignite a broader trend among state governments, decided to create its own standards.

The “WSP: Requirements for Marijuana Growers” document focuses largely on protecting workers from pesticides. To this end, it requires that workers undergo a pesticide safety training course with a certified WPS trainer before their employment begins.

The new regulations also specify that workers must don personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid contact with pesticides. PPE comprises a respirator, chemical resistant gloves, and protective eyewear.

The rules are set to take effect in January 2017.

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