CSU-partnered cannabis study finds industry safety standards inadequate

Hailey Deaver

A study on the Colorado cannabis industry has found that nearly half of the workers in the industry have received little to no health and safety training.

According to the study, “Work and Well-Being in the Colorado Cannabis Industry,” 23 percent of workers surveyed never received any health and safety training, and 23 percent said they had either one or sparse training. 


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A CSU-partnered study on the Colorado cannabis industry found that nearly half of the workers in the industry received little to no health and safety training. (Jamie Rankin | Collegian)

“Work and Well-Being in the Colorado Cannabis Industry” is a project and study that was researched by Kevin Walters, Gwenith Fisher, Liliana Tenney and Kurt Kraiger. Walters is a graduate student from Colorado State University in the industrial/organizational psychology field, and a trainee in occupational health psychology. Fisher is Walter’s advisor for his work on researching positive aspects of the work environment.

Walters created a blog post on thecannabisindustry.org to reach out to people for the survey. The study surveyed 214 cannabis workers in Colorado.

The report, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association, found that a large portion of cannabis industry workers have received little to no safety and health training in their workplace.

A majority of cannabis industry workers are male, caucasian, below the age of 30 and have some level of college education, according to the study. Most workers made less than $35,000 annually. Approximately two thirds of the workers in the cannabis industry are medical card holders. Approximately 78 percent of the workers used cannabis on a daily basis.

About 75 percent of workers reported having health insurance, yet most employees said their employers did not provide health insurance benefits. Retirement benefits were offered to 20 percent and other benefits were offered to 25 percent of workers.

The study found that many on-site injuries and health issues were caused by pesticides and other chemicals. About 23 percent of the workers claimed that they did not receive health and safety training on the job, and several workers reported having skin irritation, eye irritation and headaches or dizziness.

A majority of workers reported having back pain or discomfort in the hands, wrists or fingers every day for at least a week in the past year. For three consecutive months or longer, 36 workers out of 214 surveyed reported coughing and, 34 reported bringing up phlegm.

The report had several recommendations to improve the cannabis industry:

  • Cannabis businesses should reference the Guide to Worker Safety and Health in the Marijuana Industry in order to base inform their safety procedures.
  • Cannabis businesses should repeatedly have required safety trainings for all employees, that cover general health safety with ergonomics, emergency preparedness, and cannabis hazards involved with growing, cultivating, trimming and selling cannabis.
  • Cannabis businesses should teach their workers about accident investigation, conflict management, tobacco cessation, workplace violence, OSHA record-keeping and injury and illness prevention.
  • Cannabis businesses should provide health insurance for their employees.

Cannabis Trainers, founded by Marueen McNamara, provides training for safe and responsible sale of cannabis in accordance with Colorado state legislation. Cannabis Trainers also provides communication and leadership training, conflict management and customer service training.

If there are questions about the study or the report, Kevin M. Walters can be contacted at kevin.m.walter@colostate.edu. A simple breakdown of the report can be found at this link.


Collegian reporter Hailey Deaver can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @autumn_hail.