The first ever union contract for cannabis workers in Washington state was announced Thursday, marking a huge step forward for the newly emerging industry and marijuana advocates.
The contract was signed between Local 367 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the Cannabis Club Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary in Tacoma, Wash. The new contract has the potential to add more legitimacy to an industry that has been illegal for many decades and the source of substantial criticism.
“Workers have rights regardless of the industry they are in,” Denise Jagielo, president of Local 367, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the members at Triple C, and other dispensaries, to protect their wages and benefits, and to create a safe work environment.”
The federal government outlawed the sale, possession and use of marijuana in a series of laws primarily enacted in the 1930s. Critics of the drug argue its use can result in adverse health and social consequences. Washington residents approved a ballot measure in November of 2012 allowing the drug to become legal over the course of a year. Colorado is the only other state that has legalized recreational use, but 23 states allow it to be used for medical purposes.
Regardless, Evan Yeats, spokesman for the UFCW, notes the main priority is the workers and being able to properly represent them.
“We continue to advocate for all workers,” Yeats told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The ratification process is identical.”
With two states making the drug legal and many others allowing medical use, the contract looks likely to be a huge step in what will soon be even more cannabis workers looking to organize.
“There are a lot of contracts already in place,” Yeats noted. “There are contract negotiations happening across the country.”
“We’re going to set a high bar for our industry with a contract that’s fair to both workers and to owners,” Tim Moisio, an employee for the store, said in a statement. “Cannabis jobs should be good, family-supporting jobs and our contract ensures that.”
Nevertheless, many do not agree with medical use of the drug and even more adamantly oppose recreational use.
“Legalizing marijuana will greatly increase its availability and lead to more use, abuse, and addiction among adults and youth,” No on I-502, the primary group opposing legalization in Washington, argued.
“Most 12th graders currently report not using marijuana because it is illegal,” the group also noted. “Marijuana recently surpassed alcohol as the number one reason youth enter substance abuse treatment.”
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