The workers at seven Fort Collins medical marijuana dispensaries have voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Colorado’s largest labor union, on Monday, according to The Denver Post. The move could help bolster the medical marijuana businesses in Fort Collins which are facing a possible ban to be decided by city voters in November and lead to a statewide unionizing of the medical marijuana industry.
7News reports that hundreds of workers from those seven shops joined the union, however this is just a small fraction of Colorado's pot industry workers who are employed by hundreds of dispensaries and grow operations throughout the state.
Brian Vicente, the executive director of marijuana advocacy group Sensible Colorado, told Bloomberg Businessweek that union support, including campaign and financial backing, could also help get a constitutional amendment on the Colorado ballot next year that would support recreational use legalization and regulation like the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has been pursuing.
Representatives from the pot dispensaries say that joining forces with UFCW is a good fit because they believe that medical marijuana is part of the industries that UFCW already works with like manufacturing, retail, food processing and agriculture industries. However, not all cannabis industry professionals believed this was the right move.
The Cannabis Business Alliance issued a statement to 9News saying that the industry isn’t ready to unionize because it’s still in its infancy, saying: “While we share the goals of supporting our employees, and welcome support from UFCW, along with other groups who share our vision of advancing the industry, we simply aren't there yet when it comes to unionization.”
The union move does give some needed political clout to marijuana dispensaries which are facing increased crackdown efforts from federal prosecutors. But just as as the feds pick up the pace on busting pot shops, a new Gallup poll shows that marijuana support is at a record high -- 50 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana.
Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a retired Baltimore narcotics cops, said to The Huffington Post, "The Obama administration's escalation of the 'war on drugs' and its attacks on state medical marijuana laws are only giving more and more Americans the opportunity to realize just how ridiculous and harmful our prohibition-based drug laws are. These numbers from Gallup, show that momentum is on the side of reformers, so it's no wonder the drug warriors are getting scared and ramping up their attacks. People are clearly waking up to the fact that we can no longer afford the fiscal and human costs of this failed 'war on drugs.' Savvy politicians would do well to take heed."