MI discusses unionizing the marijuana industry

Marijuana in MI

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — People lined up to share their concerns and request changes during a hearing Wednesday in Lansing that discussed the proposed rules and regulations for marijuana in Michigan. 

Michigan is still trying to establish the rules for licenses, operations, testing and everything else in the legal pot industry. One point of contention is the labor peace agreements. 

“I’m here to talk about labor peace agreements,” said Jerry Young who is a union member in an unrelated industry. 

Many opinions about the labor peace agreements were discussed during the hearing.

“We have a number of concerns,” said Robin Schnider, the executive director of Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. “Our members are opposed to the mandated labor peace agreements.”

But others are in favor of the proposed rules.

“I’m really excited about the labor peace agreements,” said Josey Scoggin, the first minor medical marijuana patient in Michigan. 

Labor peace agreements require union access to businesses in exchange for a union’s agreement not to disrupt business operations. It doesn’t force unionization, but it opens the door for unions.

Under the current draft of state rules and regulations, businesses applying for state marijuana licenses are required to sign a labor peace agreement. 

“We want to make sure there is as much stability as possible,” said Andrew Brisbo, the executive director of Medical Regulatory Agency. “Any sort of labor disruptions could be detrimental, not only to the industry operators but the work force as well, but untimely the safety of the market as well.”

Brisbo was appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The GOP-controlled Senate approved a resolution formally opposing the requirement to sign a labor peace agreement with a union. The Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, which represents more than 200 marijuana business, agrees. 

“There isn’t any other industry in the state that requires the signing of a union peace agreement in exchange for a license. Our industry is brand new. We want to be treated equally,” said Schnider.

Others like the mayor of Jackson, marijuana users and even those outside of the industry feel this agreement is needed to ensure fair wages and working conditions for employees in the industry.

“I want to make sure we have a fair and safe workplace because that means a safe product for the consumer,” Young said. 

There is a lot to consider, but the director of MRA says they could have a final set of rules and regulations done by May.

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