US (CA): Cannabis cultivation and COVID: employers strive to keep a healthy workforce

The cannabis industry’s reliance on non-local labor has required cultivators to think creatively about processing their crops. Humboldt County Sheriff’s William Honsal’s May 21 statement about cannabis’s trimmigrant workforce represented a disruptive shift in the way cultivators staff their endeavors. He warned, “Out of towners right now are not welcome.”

To fill the cultivators’ labor needs, Sheriff Honsal and Humboldt County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich have both touted the benefits of cannabis growers “hiring local” to provide labor for farms.The benefit being these locally-hired employees would not have to transgress shelter-in-place regulations.  

Jaymi Dark, the owner, and Director of Human Resources of Dark Staffing Solutions, has been cited specifically by Sheriff Honsal as an answer to cannabis cultivators looking to hire local and mitigate viral transmission. Dark Staffing Solutions’ website describes the company as “an employment agency and farm labor contractor located in beautiful Arcata, California.”

Dark explained how some workers arrived from out of the area hoping to get employed in the cannabis industry. She said, “Before legalization, they would traditionally get work by assembling outside of a place where they would be seen and picked up by a grower. The Dinsmore Store, Willow Creek Rays, the Honeydew Store, or even the side of the highway are all examples of where you could find them.” 


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