So far, cannabis industry leaders said, there haven’t been widespread disruptions to growing and manufacturing operations. But that could change as the virus spreads; workers could start falling ill, and there are jitters over increases in the price of isopropyl alcohol, which is used in some THC extraction processes but also to make sanitizing products.
One company, CommCan, said it has suspended wholesale operations from its Medway growing and processing facility in order to meet surging demand at its Millis marijuana store, and to avoid unwittingly spreading the virus.
CommCan chief executive Marc Rosenfeld said that if the company is forced to reduce hours for retail workers, those employees could be reassigned to the growing and manufacturing operation. Workers who miss time because of the virus won’t lose their jobs, he vowed.
Other firms, including NETA and Sira Naturals, have also expanded their sick time policies to encourage ill workers to stay home.
But no company can guarantee hourly employees won’t soon lose some or all of their scheduled shifts, leaving some destitute. And union leaders warned that because marijuana is still illegal under US law, the state’s thousands of cannabis workers could be ineligible for any forthcoming federal financial assistance.
“I’m worried about cannabis workers being left behind by any federal response,” said Jim Carvalho, the political director of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445, which is organizing Massachusetts cannabis employees. “The states have to step up and make sure that they have access to the same protections other workers would have.”