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US: States with legal cannabis consider how to protect cannabis workers

Most cannabis dispensaries are cash-only businesses, constantly at risk of being robbed. Indoor growing facilities use harsh lighting, and plants get sprayed with pesticides. Those conditions can create daily hazards for cannabis workers, which is why labor organizers are trying to unionize them as legalization spreads and the marijuana workforce grows.

“Cannabis consumers might assume that cannabis companies are progressive and treat their workers with respect,” Jim Hammons, organization director for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7, wrote in an email to Stateline. UFCW Local 7 represents 23,000 members, including cannabis workers, in Colorado and Wyoming.

“But the reality is that many are abusive employers, including the small companies, and act just like big corporations when it comes to their employees.”

UFCW, which represents grocery, retail, meatpacking, and health care workers, has led the unionization charge. The union says it represents tens of thousands of workers in the burgeoning marijuana industry, including “budtenders,” processors, delivery people, and cultivators.


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