California marijuana laws spark rift between industry, unions

The upcoming implementation of California’s state medical marijuana laws as well as the new recreational cannabis system have led to policy disagreements between those in the longstanding industry and organized labor, which is eager to get involved.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the rift threatens to disrupt what many were hoping would be a smooth rollout next year of California’s dual medical-recreational marijuana governance system. The concern is that unions are jockeying for dues-paying members while others in the business want more flexibility when it comes to, say, rules that govern who can transport marijuana.

A particular sticking point is a stipulation in the state MMJ laws approved by the legislature in 2015 giving “the International Brotherhood of Teamsters first rights to transport and deliver pot products,” the Chronicle reported. But that provision was not included in Prop 64, the rec legalization measure approved by voters last year.

The union is trying to salvage the mandate, but the marijuana industry is pushing back, arguing that growers and retailers shouldn’t be forced to hire Teamsters if it’s cheaper for them to work out their own transportation deals. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union – which has interests in the marijuana trade in multiple states – has taken the industry’s side against the Teamsters.

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4 comments on “California marijuana laws spark rift between industry, unions
  1. Mark Burcaw on

    Union greed could well have their members playing the field position of left-right-out. How is that?…Self Driving Semi Trucks!

  2. George Bianchini on

    Unions are a good way to go for some industries. Having prior union membership experience in the grocery business I have seen both sides. The good is for the person who just wants to get his eight hours in pick up a subpar paycheck and be left alone. I only had twelve years of union membership so I may be missing some other “good things” that unions provide. My experience in Cannabis has showed that to survive in this business takes a different type of worker. In my thirty years of being self-employed in several different retail/wholesale companies I have come to see the workers of this industry are smarter, better educated and more enlightened not to mention braver than those I have worked with before. They seem to dress a little differently too. We can blame Stevie D for that!
    Let me explain it this way: If the police came to a regular type union operation with a warrant for the boss my guess would be that workers would block the boss from leaving via the back door. Why? Because the boss was the enemy, the bad guy, the reason it stop you from being a nice person and loving your job.
    The same scenario at a Cannabis company would go something like this; stall the police from getting to the boss for a minute or two so that the 911 phone tree alert activation gets started. To photograph the cash in the safe (because it always seems to vanish) and get the video system streaming live. Even get arrested for obstruction in an effort to show solidarity to the company.
    In 2009 My Company joined the UFCW for our pre-rolled cone business. We were told the union would help keep us out of jail and get us more of a legal business standing also help us get banking and political clout, not to mention that me the company owner was dictating terms. This sounded good so we joined. The first problem we had was that we already paid more than the union scale. The second was the fact that seniority prevented really great workers from rising in the ranks. We were not part of the union long enough to see this happen.
    I remember calling my father at the time that we had joined the union; he was a lifetime union member. When I explained our terms he replied “that is not a real union”
    Then one day I called my father again and told him the union director of the Cannabis division was arrested for extorting money from union companies and members. His response, Well son it appears they are a real union!
    Stay tuned for more, the Teamsters are coming!

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