When organized labor unions campaign on behalf of legal marijuana growing and distribution, you know that America is way past the tipping point. Molly Redden reports for The New Republic:
Early one morning in April, DEA and IRS agents and U.S. marshals raided several Oakland properties owned by Richard Lee, then the leading figure of California’s medical-marijuana industry. At Oaksterdam University, Lee’s multistory business school for marijuana workers, agents went in with power saws, a sledgehammer, and a small battering ram, and walked out with file drawers and bags full of loose documents. At Lee’s dispensary down the block, they heaped live cannabis plants into trash bags. Word got out, and soon hundreds of protesters surrounded Oaksterdam, screaming “Fuck you, pigs!” at the officers. Some of the agitators milled around all day, hoisting signs, blocking the road, and, yes, smoking pot.
A more sober cohort also joined the protest—officials from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5. The UFCW had been unionizing marijuana workers since 2010, when it organized the Lee-owned businesses that were now blocked off by fluttering caution tape. At the height of the UFCW’s efforts, more than 2,000 cannabis workers, most of who worked behind the counter selling medicinal marijuana in Western states, had signed a union contract. But federal raids have sent that figure nose-diving to 500 or so workers today. With the raid on Oaksterdam, not only had the federal government shuttered the most reputable marijuana business in the state; they had shuttered the largest union shop, of some 100 UFCW workers, in the entire cannabis industry.
“In this industry, workers are severely oppressed,” Dan Rush, the head of the UFCW’s cannabis division, said. “But it’s not by, necessarily, the employers. It’s more by an ignorant social and political environment.” And that includes the White House, he added: “A president who did not do what he said he would before he was elected.” Indeed, when Local 5 first began to organize marijuana workers, management generally refrained from interfering, in the hopes that the union would gradually help make the political environment friendlier…
[continues at The New Republic]
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