Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Student presentation to explore labor laws and labor rights in the marijuana industry

The second student presentation this week in my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar is focused on labor issues in the marijuana industry.  Here is how the student describes the topic and provided readings:

On Thursday, February 3, 2022, cannabis workers employed at the Herbology dispensary in Newark voted 8-2 to become the first unionized dispensary in Ohio.  The Sunnyside dispensary in Cincinnati followed soon after, voting to unionize on February 9, 2022.  Not only is there new interest in unionization in the Ohio cannabis industry, but recreational marijuana legalization is gaining momentum and the national cannabis market is growing rapidly.  The legal cannabis industry currently supports 428,059 workers nationally, and it is predicted that a mature cannabis market would support 1.5 million to 1.75 million workers.

The right for workers to unionize is protected by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).  However, the NLRA does not protect agricultural workers.  In addition, it is unclear whether the National Labor Relations Board will consistently exert jurisdiction over retail workers in a federally prohibited recreational marijuana industry.

To cover this gray area, six states have laws that encourage or require licensed cannabis businesses to adopt labor peace agreements (“LPA’s”) with their employees, and Ohio is considering implementing a similar requirement. However, the effectiveness of LPA’s is contested, as they may impose too many restrictions upon business owners while not providing the full scope of protection that employees would enjoy under the NLRA.  The validity of these LPA’s has not yet been contested in court, but in the interim, they may provide some level of union protection for otherwise unprotected workers.  This paper will evaluate the policy concerns surrounding the use of LPA’s in the cannabis industry, as well as what widespread unionization could mean for a quickly growing sector of the economy.

Background Reading:

Economic Policy Institute, "The Cannabis Industry Could be a Model of Good Jobs — if Policymakers Strengthen Works’ Right to Unionize"

UFCW, "NEW REPORT: Cannabis Workers Unionizing Leads to Higher Quality Jobs and Increases Standards in Fast-Growing Industry"

MJBizDaily, "Marijuana Union Organizing Surging Amid Pandemic, Uptick in Labor Peace Requirements"

Leafly, "Jobs Report 2022"


Assembled readings on specific topics, Business laws and regulatory issues, Employment and labor law issues | Permalink


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