California lawmakers are calling for a sweeping investigation into corruption in the state’s cannabis industry, legislative hearings on the exploitation of farmworkers and new laws to thwart labor trafficking in response to revelations of rampant abuses and worker deaths in a multibillion-dollar market that has become increasingly unmanageable.
The proposals follow a series of Times investigations last year showing that California’s 2016 legalization of recreational cannabis spurred political corruption, explosive growth in illegal cultivation and widespread exploitation of workers. The Times found that wage theft was rampant and that many workers were subjected to squalid, sometimes lethal conditions.
A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Industrial Relations told The Times last week that the agency is examining the deaths of 32 cannabis farmworkers — never reported to work safety regulators — uncovered by the newspaper.
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