Move by Los Angeles Medical Cannabis Workers to Form Union Could Bring Mixed Results

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Dozens of Los Angeles marijuana dispensary workers have formed a union under the United Food and Commercial Workers umbrella, hoping to present a united front as the cannabis industry faces threats on several fronts.

But whether the move will lead to any tangible results and boost the industry’s political influence remains to be seen, as unionization has been a mixed bag for medical marijuana workers in other regions.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 announced last week that it is now representing workers from a handful of dispensaries in Los Angeles. The UFCW promised to fight a proposal to ban dispensaries in the city, which would trigger thousands of layoffs.

The local medical cannabis industry welcomed the unionization effort, saying it will help legitimize the MMJ business as a whole and put added pressure on city leaders to reject the proposed ban. Many observers think that the industry needs to unite any way it can, and getting workers together to fight for a common cause is a huge step in that direction.

However, forming a union doesn’t guarantee political victory, as Colorado medical marijuana workers recently discovered.

Last year, several hundred MMJ employees in Colorado formed a union under the UFCW. The union vowed to fight a proposed dispensary ban in Fort Collins and helped raise tens of thousands of dollars to fight the measure. But residents voted in favor of the ban anyway, leading to the closure of all medical cannabis centers in the city.

Similar MMJ worker unions in other areas – including Michigan and California – have had limited success on the political front as well.