Minnesota’s Medical Marijuana Industry Unionizes, Needs to Expand


The United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union has been one of the strongest political forces working to end cannabis prohibition across the country. The UFCW has unionized medical cannabis workers in California and the union put its considerable political clout into the successful Oregon Measure 91 legalization measure. The UFCW has just announced that they have unionized one of Minnesota’s medical production facilities and is in talks to unionize the other facility.

From KIMT.com:

Bernie Hesse, an organizer with UFCW Local 1189, says his union is also talking to LeafLine about organizing staff at its facility in Cottage Grove.

The contract at Minnesota Medical Solutions calls for the head cultivator to earn $2,200 a week. Pharmacy, horticultural and laboratory technicians will make $22 an hour. Custodians will make $18 an hour.

July 1st is the first day medical cannabis can be dispensed in Minnesota.

While it is great to see medical marijuana law reforms across the country, Minnesota’s law needs to expand to adequately benefit patients. Minnesota’s Legislature passed a bill last year to legalize medical cannabis in certain limited forms. The bill created one of the most strict medical marijuana programs in the country. Smoking medical cannabis is prohibition. Patients can only vaporize cannabis, or ingest via edibles or other non-smokable means. All cannabis will have to be purchased through licensed outlets, which will be limited to a small handful which likely won’t open until 2016.

The list of qualifying conditions is very low compared to some older programs in America. But it sounds like Minnesota’s Governor is open to the idea of expanding the list, but isn’t willing to allow smokable flower. Per the Albert Lea Tribune:

Dayton said he’s willing to consider expanding the list of qualifying health conditions for patients looking to access medical marijuana, but he won’t budge on the prohibition against smoking the drug for medicine or otherwise. “If there are people with medical needs that could be helped with what we will be producing next year then I am certainly willing to consider that in the coming session,” he said.

Minnesota’s medical marijuana program is too young right now to know what level of success it will experience. However, it’s safe to say that the program’s success will never reach it’s full potential until more patients can qualify for the program via added conditions, and be able to grow medical cannabis on their own. There are currently only two entities licensed to grow cannabis in Minnesota, which means if one or both don’t do it right, it will cripple safe access, which is obviously harmful to patients.

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.