That’s the intriguing question posed by John Ford in Marijuana Legalization: Why the Pot Business Needs Unions to Survive
Though the image of straight-laced hard-working blue-collar labor collaborating with hippy stoners doesn’t quite seem to match up, it is actually a match made in heaven. Labor union memberships have been flagging for some time, and they are in desperate need of a growth industry to latch on to. Meanwhile, marijuana dispensaries have both a branding problem (lacking legitimacy) and a lobbying problem (inability to organize), both of which unions can be of great help.
Another seemingly contradictory aspect of this situation is that labor is courting business owners, as opposed to fighting them. The simple explanation is that unions need new blood, and marijuana dispensaries are a fairly easy industry to work with. True to their hippy stereotype, trust-busting is not really something most dispensary owners are all that interested in. Plus, hundreds of thousands of new (labor) jobs, and billions of dollars, could be added to this industry in the next decade if legalization continues to reach new states and the federal government gives in on the issue. That’s a lot of new union dues to collect.
Drug policy reform has faced some uphill battles because of other unions (law enforcement, prison, etc.). Might be useful to have some of that organization on our side.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.