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.