Biden’s vaccine mandate expected will apply to cannabis industry workers

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Just because the cannabis industry is not federally legal, it doesn’t mean that the booming sector will be able to avoid Biden’s vaccine mandate. 

On Thursday, September 9, President Joe Biden declared the proposed rules. Based on his announcement, the regulations will be applied by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) via a forthcoming emergency order.

Biden’s instructions stipulate that businesses with more than 100 employees must abide by a coronavirus vaccine mandate or, at the very least, compulsory weekly testing for individuals who don’t receive the vaccine.

“The cannabis industry would be subject, I expect, to the same rules other employers are,” said labor attorney and partner in the Boston office of Foley Hoag, Jonathan Keselenko, during an interview with MJBizDaily reporters.

“It’s clear (from court rulings) that federal statutes and agencies generally have jurisdiction” over the industry as a whole.

Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate faces certain obstacles

The Biden administration’s new rules for workplace COVID-19 vaccinations of which will be enforced in the coming weeks are currently being formulated by the OSHA.

According to the OSHA website, its mission “is to ensure that employees work in a safe and healthful environment by setting.” Unfortunately, due to severe understaffing issues, the likelihood of Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate being rolled out smoothly is unlikely. 

What’s more, the OSHA has earned itself a fairly poor reputation for establishing emergency rules. Adding fuel to the fire is the Republican political opposition that the mandate faces. With that being said, cannabis industry workers may be waiting some time to discover whether or not their company is included in Biden’s vaccine mandate. 

Number of cannabis companies affected by Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate remains uncertain

Until the rules are rolled out properly, it is unclear just how many cannabis businesses across the United States will be impacted by the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Numerous cannabis businesses are already bound by the harsh requirements. 

However, it should be noted that a significant number of large and small-scale cannabis companies are unlikely to meet the 100-employee threshold. According to data published in the 2021 MJBizFactbook, the industry employs between 340,000 and 415,000 full-time workers across the nation.

“I think like a lot of things the devil is in the details,” Keselenko said, as he noted that the outcome will likely depend on the OSHA’s definition of a cannabis business. “We’ll have to see what comes out.”

The federal regulations, which are expected to be effectuated imminently, are also being imposed for workers in other mainstream industries.