Medical marijuana & unions: Cannabis Business Alliance says it's too soon to organize industry

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News that the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 had organized medical marijuana workers turned out to be less sweeping than it first seemed. Only staffers at several Fort Collins dispensaries have joined, with the UFCW's contributions to fighting an MMJ dispensary ban there likely influencing ownership buy-in. Meanwhile, the Cannabis Business Alliance is decidedly lukewarm about recommending that more centers don the union label.

Any suggestion that "the entire industry is unionizing isn't exactly true," says Bob Hoban, an attorney who currently chairs the CBA board. "It's important to note that this is a very, very young industry. We don't even have reliable banking yet, and no lending. So it's in its infancy, and it's way too early to tell whether or not this industry will go union.

"There are a few centers up in Fort Collins that have gotten close to the unions because, I believe, of funding on the ballot question" -- Question 300, which would prohibit the retail sale of medical marijuana. "But from the CBA's perspective, telling any small business in this industry to do anything in regard to its labor force at this time is premature at best."

This stance shouldn't be interpreted as anti-worker, Hoban stresses -- but rather as a recognition of the nascent stage of commercial development.

"The Cannabis Business Alliance is intended to support small and medium-size businesses in this industry -- not just dispensaries, but supply companies, etc. And we're not going to take a position to dictate how and when small businesses should employ people. They should decide on their own how they're going to staff their labor force."

Hoban is pleased the UFCW is assisting Fort Collins dispensaries whose very existence is endangered by the November 1 vote on Question 300, and who face an uphill fight in the estimation of opposition leader Steve Ackerman. After all, off-year elections tend to be dominated by older voters who may not favor MMJ -- and a decision not to send mail-in ballots to anyone who didn't vote in 2010 makes the challenge of reaching supporters even greater. But he says the UFCW hasn't yet reached out to the Cannabis Business Alliance about broadening the unionization efforts -- "and even if they did, it's just too early. Way too early."

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana raid: Cherry Top Farms compliant with state, but feds still seize plants, medicine."

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15 comments
Guest12
Guest12

unions are part of what has destroyed this country. people that have unskilled jobs that make way more than they earn. unions should be illegal. 

embrace this pot clowns
embrace this pot clowns

Cannabis Business Alliance? Who are they? Bob Hoban is chair, apparently. Just read the article that says his clients who just got raided by the feds are gonna be OK b/c they weren't arrested onsite. Very naive advice, since the feds are clearly in the middle of an investigation of his client.

Too soon to organize? Well, at least someone is looking at helping the employees, who were all forced to sign away their 5th amendment right against self-incrimination to work for $10/hour in an UNLICENSED dispensary which might be raided at any moment. Better than Hoban has done for the employees. He's advised all his dispensary's employees to submit to criminal background checks and sign off on every mj transaction they make, in writing and on video, despite the fact that their employers HAVE NO STATE LICENSE.

Perhaps someone will finally organize to fight against any more repressive laws inflicted on the patients. Doesn't look like it is going to be the Cannabis Business Alliance though.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Embrace. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Donatas Jasiulionis
Donatas Jasiulionis

1) EVERYONE that sees these links sign up and weigh in on the debate - http://pvox.co/CdiFqY - http://wh.gov/gDQ - http://wh.gov/gf3 2) Propagate those  links and ensure that everyone that sees them go to those sites. Too many people are blaming the President for enforcing the federal marijuana prohibition. Contact Congress (the LEGISLATIVE branch [that's the important one when it comes to law]) via the first link. Contact Obama (the EXECUTIVE branch [until Obama vetos a passed H.R. 2306 it's on Congress - but tell Obama anyway]) via the second link. It really is THAT easy. Participate in democracy!

Lady
Lady

Please make sure your employees know NEVER to sign a union commitment card EVER without first seeing a contract which has been approved by both the MMC's Owner/Management and the Union rep who wants the signature, it can be used as leverage to force your business to go union before contracts are even discussed

Vincent Von Dudler
Vincent Von Dudler

This two part plan is the only action the citizens of the US need to take to end federal marijuana prohibition1) EVERYONE that sees these links sign up at both sites and weigh in on the debate- pvox.co/CdiFqY- wh.gov/gDQ2) Propagate those two links and ensure that everyone that sees them go to both those sites.

Too many people are blaming the President for enforcing the federal marijuana prohibition. Contact Congress (the LEGISLATIVE branch [that's the important one when it comes to law]) via the first link. Contact Obama (the EXECUTIVE branch [until Obama vetos a passed H.R. 2306 it's on Congress - but tell Obama anyway]) via the second link. It really is THAT easy. Participate in democracy!

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Waaaaay tooooo early.... way way waaaaaay to premature.....

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Absolutely!  I doubt that MMCs are going to rejuvenate the UFCW, and I doubt that the UFCW can do much if anything to help the industry; the move is far more symbolic than substantive.  This is an inversion of the normal impetus for unionization -- here, management would seem to pressing for unionization as opposed to the workers themselves, which indicates that, for all their happy talk, MMC owners fear the prohibitionists more than they do any possible labor action by union members. This belies all the nonsense coming out of MMIG and others that Colorado's unconstitutional laws confer legitimacy or protection on businesses that deal in medical cannabis.

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

Well, wrong again with the alphabet soup reply. It's the union pushing for unionization, and their tactics are as usual: prey on people and sitiations that are vunerable to false promises, have a need for some type of leadership, and of course have $30 for dues.

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

I'm glad you polled the entire readership, thank you for that!

embrace this pot clowns
embrace this pot clowns

Nobody understands your alphabet soup comment. You're only as clever as your audience thinks you are.

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

It may seem bizzare to you, because unlike you, my view is not limited to what is printed on Westword. I have worked on both sides of the coin, as well as have owned businesses on both sides of the coin. 

The alphabet soup comment will come to you, I'm sure.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

That is a bizarre response.  I have no idea what you mean by "the alphabet soup reply", unless it is by way of indicating that you don't understand the words I use and are too lazy to look them up.  I will grant you that what has been posted on Westword does not elucidate exactly who wanted unionization and how much they wanted it, but I think it is clear enough that MMCs encouraged it -- your interpretation would seem to be based not on any facts related to MMCs, but on an ideological animadversion to unions in general.

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

What will the union actually do besides collect dues?

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