Just months after New Jersey officially launched legal cannabis sales, labor unions are making real progress in representing workers. Some of the largest cannabis companies in the state are already unionized, and further negotiations are underway.
New Jersey voters approved an adult-use legalization ballot initiative in November 2020 (by the largest margin in history). And after many months of often-fierce debate among lawmakers and the public, the state finally opened dispensaries on April 21, 2022. To date, there are 16 adult-use dispensaries, with four more expected to open soon. Besides dispensaries, the adult-use market comprises growers, manufacturers, testers, and distributors—and unions are working to represent their workers, too.
As reported by NJ.com, two multi-state cannabis companies in New Jersey, Verano and AYR Wellness, have already entered collective bargaining and signed contracts with their workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 360 union. Five other companies—the Botanist, Ascend Wellness, GTI, Columbia Care, and Justice Grown—are currently negotiating to create contracts for their workers.
Of the remaining two companies, Curaleaf has signed a “labor peace agreement.” A labor peace agreement does not mean that workers joined a union. Instead, it’s an agreement from an employer promising not to interfere in labor organizing—as Amazon infamously did in a 2021 union drive in Bessemer, Alabama. The final company, TerrAscend, has yet to take such a step.
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