Skip to main content

Marijuana leaves.
Trying to legalize an entire industry so you can unionize it? That's some long-term political thinking right there, and it's what the United Food and Commercial Workers is doing around medical marijuana. Unfortunately, at the same time the union is rapidly organizing marijuana dispensaries, the federal government is rapidly shutting them down—after all, no matter what some states or cities say, it's still an illegal drug as far as the feds are concerned.

For instance, just weeks after workers at 14 Los Angeles dispensaries joined the union last spring, several federal agencies raided and shut down businesses in Oakland, putting around 100 union members out of work. The idea was, in part, that medical marijuana businesses could show that they were reputable and responsible, following labor laws and in other ways legitimate members of the business community, by letting their workers unionize. The UFCW wasn't going to be working with bosses who didn't have their acts together. And the UFCW could provide increased political access and ground game for legalization efforts. As Molly Redden reports at The New Republic, the UFCW has put thousands of volunteers on the ground in legalization campaigns or fighting medical marijuana bans and that increased political access really has come through at the state level. The problem is, that's not the whole story:

To an extent, this loose partnership has functioned well at the state level. The UFCW has been an unseen force in nearly every big push to pass marijuana-friendly laws and ordinances in Western states like California and Colorado. But federal crackdowns on pot retailers remain a constant bugbear, threatening to dry up one of the UFCW’s best streams for new membership. And while unions aren’t afraid to stare down large employers, they’re outmatched by the federal government. “We, through our international union back in D.C., are going to bend anybody’s ear who is going to listen to us about changing federal law,” said John Hughes, a cannabis division rep who works with the Local 5. “But we can’t stop the DOJ.” And when the Justice Department does come after marijuana workers, “having the union there doesn’t protect them at all.”
Because of that, the number of unionized marijuana workers has gone from over 2,000 to around 500, even as legalized medical marijuana gains steam in the states.

If the federal government passes legislation allowing states to pass medical marijuana laws, though ... suddenly, the UFCW's hard work could pay off in a big way in a new, unionized industry that Walmart won't be undercutting anytime soon.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 02:42 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, DKos Cannabis Law and Drug War Reform, and Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site