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The US Cannabis Industry Wants To Unionize: Pressure Mounts For A Model That 'Benefits Both Sides'

By Franca Quarneti via El Planteo

The US cannabis industry is growing by leaps and bounds and, along with this phenomenon, the movement to unionize workers in the sector is growing as well.

Currently, more than 158 million Americans live in places where marijuana is legal. In addition, it is estimated that cannabis industry sales reach a sum of $57 million by 2030.

Thus, the union "United Food & Commercial Workers" (UFCW) has been working to defend and organize cannabis workers since 2010; and claims to represent tens of thousands of them in 23 states.

UFCW President Anthony Perrone told Forbes: "Our union, including UFCW locals and members throughout the country, have changed the course of legalization efforts for the better, helping to ensure explicit worker protections are included in legislation and shaping the industry from the ground up."

"Wherever there are cannabis workers interested in organizing, UFCW is ready to fight for them and build a safer, more inclusive industry together," he added.

But, what positions does the category "cannabis workers" include? The union welcomed processors, budtenders, chefs, lab workers, growers, and delivery personnel into its ranks.

For her part, LaQuita Honeysucker, UFCW director of civil rights and community engagement, said: "This is an industry that's very lucrative, and unionization benefits both sides... We need to ensure that these jobs are family-sustaining jobs, that workers feel safe on the job. And, for mom-and-pop shops, having a union contract offers some stability. You got built-in pay increases at a certain amount and at certain times."

Unionization: A Better Future For The Cannabis Industry?

Meanwhile, the UFCW's campaign called "Cannabis Organizing" aims to increase worker voices, break stigmas around the plant, increase the number of minority cannabis licenses, and increase equity in this nascent industry.

Also, during an interview with journalist Richard Fowler, Frederika McClary Easley, a member of the women-led company The People's Ecosystem (TPE) that seeks to empower communities through cannabis, predicted that the marijuana industry is a microcosm of the current economic system, riddled with inherent racial barriers to entry.

This plant is being legislated and regulated because the Black, Latino, and indigenous communities have shown how profitable it can be, and the current ownership and leadership reflect their contribution. Today, 80% of the industry is owned by white people, mainly men, said McClary Easley.

Finally, it should be noted that a report by the Economic Policy Institute stressed the importance of unionization for the industry to become a model of good jobs.

Get your daily dose of cannabis news on Benzinga Cannabis. Don't miss out on any important developments in the industry.

Image By El Planteo

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