California has a booming marijuana industry generating billions of dollars in revenue. An important part of the maturation process looms in the next year or two, as the industry will be transformed by regulation into a wholly legitimate agricultural concern.
Next year, new labor standards for the marijuana industry will help its traditionally migrant workforce ("trimmigrants") get things such as workers' compensation benefits, overtime (beginning in 2019), hazardous materials training, handicap-accessible parking and bathrooms and more.
Some marijuana farmers are apparently not thrilled with the coming changes. After all, labor costs are already at least half of the overhead in weed production, and that is without factoring in new benefits and coming payroll taxes.
California labor officials and some marijuana farmers are already predicting that rising overhead will drive some workers' wages down.
Others are predicting that the burgeoning weed industry is about to shift from the small, remote farms to industrial-sized agri-corporations similar to those in the Central Valley.
Right now, workers can get $20 per hour and an extra $150-$200 for trimmed buds — untaxed.
No one knows yet where those wages might settle after new regulations take effect.
What is certain is that for those who are injured on the job, workers' compensation will help them in a number of ways. Most important, the costs of medical care will be covered, and they will get a portion of their lost wages replaced.
Those are important benefits, but they are often accompanied by the headache of having legitimate workers' comp claims denied. In those cases, Southern California residents will often turn to an attorney experienced in helping people get full, fair benefits.