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Chico Chamber Builds Cannabis Group To Help Employers

"Chico >> While California’s new cannabis regulations have some residents ectatic, they open the door for a lot of questions in the business community.

That’s why the Chico Chamber of Commerce has established a subcommittee dedicated to exploring cannabis regulations as they apply to the workplace.

It is not a subcommittee to address government policies, says chamber CEO Katie Simmons. Neither is it about establishing cannabis businesses, which aren’t legal in Chico or Butte County.

Instead, it will be trying to clear up the confusion for local employers or at least giving them an arena to ask questions.

The subcommittee has only met once, so there isn’t a dedicated direction yet, Simmons said. What’s ahead could included guidelines, panel discussions or roundtable talks for the business community.

Speaking with businesses, chamber personnel found employers weren’t sure about addressing cannabis in workplace situations. There was confusion whether the regulations should be applied as alcohol is or if there is different criteria.

“We’re focusing on workplace safety, employer rights and responsibilities, impairment testing, employee safety, among other areas,” Simmons said.

“The chamber is endeavoring to answer questions that businesses might have about what can and can’t be done in the workplace.”

Simmons said the subcommittee contains about a dozen individuals, all chamber members, “...from various industries and perspectives,” and is fully seated.

There are also legislative representatives on the subcommittee, she said.

“Cannabis is a big topic. Our responsibility is to understand the impact on business, and provide resources to get questions answered.”

“Businesses want to make sure they’re doing it right,” said Simmons.

For employers, impairment is a big issue because drug influence can’t be tested like alcohol, so safety is a huge concern, she said.

“This is a topic that touches a lot of businesses.”

Asked if the subcommittee was delving into establishing or helping cannabis businesses, out-of-county distributors or similar endeavors, Simmons said, “Not at this point. The conversation is strictly focused on workplace (and) employee safety and employer responsibilities and liabilities.”

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756."

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