Two rather interesting, and related, developments on the medical marijuana front in Colorado this week:
– The local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union announced that it now represents several hundred medical marijuana workers, according to a report in the Denver Post. The union provided few additional details, saying it will reveal more information on Monday. But the move is significant, as it represents the latest effort by a labor organization to unite with the marijuana industry. Unions started targeting the medical marijuana sector last year, when the UFCW and the Teamsters signed up MMJ workers – including growers and dispensary owners – in California. In May, the Teamsters moved beyond California and signed up some employees of a medical marijuana center in Michigan.
Linking up with a powerful labor organization gives the industry some backing as it lobbies against efforts to ban dispensaries. Which brings us to the next development in Colorado…
– The battle over a potential ban of dispensaries in Fort Collins, Colo., is in full swing, and opponents of the effort are winning – at least from a financial standpoint. The main groups lobbying against the ban – Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods and Families for Safe, Secure and Regulated Access – have raised more than $108,000, according to the Coloradoan. Meanwhile, the group that put the initiative on the ballot has raised a meager $14,000, which amounts to just 12 percent of its opponents’ total. Here’s the kicker: Some of the funding for the opposition is tied to none other than the UFCW. The partnership between the union and medical marijuana workers, it seems, is already paying dividends.
What can we draw from this? The medical marijuana movement in Colorado is trying to organize into a more cohesive, united force – which many experts say is critical to the industry’s survival. If the groups in Fort Collins are successful in their efforts to defeat the ban with the help of the UFCW, it could mark the beginning of a new phase for medical marijuana.