Last week, the UFCW responded to the introduction of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which would end federal prohibition on marijuana and includes crucial language to protect workers.
Introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), alongside Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, among other provisions, would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act schedule and end the threat of federal prosecution for possession or licensed commercial activity. The bill would also create a federal cannabis licensing structure through the U.S. Department of the Treasury with labor protections; allocate money for cannabis apprenticeships and education on workers’ rights; and require the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to research the health and safety impacts on workers throughout the cannabis industry.
Last year, after the release of draft of the bill and the solicitation of discussion on its provisions, the UFCW relayed feedback on the labor protection aspects of the bill, which included:
• Request for language that ensures all cannabis jobs have the full protection of labor laws.
• Request for language that ensures apprenticeship programs have full access to federal resources afforded to programs in other industries.
• Request for language that directs health and safety standards specific to the cannabis industry.
• Request for the protection for the current “state-based” industries, many of which already implement strong labor protections.
“We are continuing to review the full contents of this landmark legislation, but are pleased to see that critically important language protecting workers across the cannabis industry has been included,” said International Vice President and Director of the Legislative and Political Action Department Ademola Oyefeso. “For decades now, the UFCW has led the charge in organizing workers across the cannabis industry. Workers in this burgeoning industry have always faced unique challenges in health and safety, the resolution of labor disputes, and legal protections. Therefore, it’s imperative that any major federal action on cannabis prohibition centers on strong worker protections.”
“Ending federal cannabis prohibition is one of the most important criminal justice, racial and economic equity, and labor protection issues of our time,” Oyefeso added. “In solving these issues, we must create a cannabis industry that addresses the harm done by federal prohibition and creates good jobs in the same communities that were previously targeted by incarceration. Today’s bill introduction is an important step in moving this effort forward, and we welcome the opportunity to continue working with our legislative partners on Capitol Hill as we finish reviewing this bill.”