Cannabis industry will not lobby against initiatives to make workplaces safer, says association spokesman

A spokesperson for Canada’s marijuana industry has ridiculed suggestions by a senior manager with a drug and alcohol testing company that the lofty stock prices of some cannabis producers have enriched the companies so much he fears they will lobby against such initiatives as random drug testing, that could make workplaces safer.

Allan Rewak, executive director of the Cannabis Canadian Council (CCC), which represents companies and others involved in the pot sector, was responding to comments made by Dan Demers, who is a senior manager with Edmonton-based CannAmm Occupational Testing Services.

Demers, in an interview with Daily Oil Bulletin, in the wake of legalization of recreational marijuana consumption in Canada, said he fears that that pot companies, with stock market values now in the billions, will outspend energy industry associations and other heavy industrial groups and prevent the introduction of widespread random drug testing, stiff laws against driving while high, and other legislative and policy steps that should be taken to make Canadians safer.

“I worry that the cannabis producers will outspend energy industry associations and other groups in Canada,” said Demers. “We [the associations] can’t compete with that.”

Rewak, the CCA spokesperson, reacted strongly to the suggestion.

“To be blunt, it’s shocking an industry such as the oil and gas industry would make that suggestion,” he said.

In fact, Demers doesn’t directly represent the energy sector, but his company works with industry players, as well as with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which represents the industry.

Demers went on to say companies like his, as well as organizations and government departments involved in workplace safety, need to continue to advance the case that there is much that needs to be done to protect workers from injury and death.

He said he worries that the euphoria over pot legalization will prevent needed steps from being taken to protect workers, particularly at highly industrialized, risky sites such as oilsands plants.

And he went on to say that the federal government has failed to implement laws and standards that protect workers, creating an environment where there is a hodgepodge of regulations across the country, while energy companies and others have been forced to act unilaterally.

Rewak, the CCC executive director, said the suggestion that the companies involved in the marijuana sector will use their financial might to lobby against policies and legislation that will make Canadians safer is insulting.

“In no way would we (support) unsafe policies and actions,” he said.

Legalization addresses the reality that over half of adult Canadians have sampled marijuana, he said.

The move to legalize consumption “brings [consumption] out into the sunlight,” where any safety or other problems around its consumption can be addressed.

Meanwhile, he said the energy sector in Canada remains far larger and wealthier than his industry.

“The suggestion that the energy industry [has less economic and political clout] than the cannabis sector is like Wal-Mart attacking Fred’s convenience store,” he said.