Public Comment

Smokefree Dispensaries - A Labor Issue

Carol Denney
Friday February 07, 2020 - 02:51:00 PM

I was sixteen when I started playing music. Smoke filled clubs were part of the game. It took me years, and surviving cancer, to begin speaking up for smokefree air. Club by club I cleared the air for me, for the sound guy, for the other musicians and the customers. Profits always went up, not down, after the change. 

Many workplaces were smokefree, but governing law was hit or miss. And in certain professions the prevailing culture was that if you wanted healthy air in your workplace you shouldn't have become a bartender or waiter. Or musician. You shouldn't have become a dancer, or an actor, or a stagehand. There is still a theater exemption risking the health of hardworking, essential people in the state of California. But in many states the protections are very few. 

Marijuana-related industries are the fastest growing business segment in California. Berkeley's new dispensary regulations allowing indoor smoking don't just put dispensary workers and customers at risk. They undermine decades of hard-won labor protections, a stunning reversal of public health policy. No ventilation or air filtration exists which can address small particulates in ambient air, and any shared walls put adjacent tenants or businesses at risk. 

Not only do marijuana users in Berkeley have an exemption from the multi-unit housing restrictions on smoking, there are more than ten ways to ingest or enjoy marijuana without affecting the air, included patches, edibles, creams, oils, infusions, etc. 

Contact your city council, which is about to go down in history as one of the few putting smokefree workplace protections in the trash bin. No dispensary should endorse or use a policy which jeopardizes hard-won, essential public health protections.