Is Marijuana Union Battle Budding?

Don't smoke that! Get a union man to smoke that!

San Francisco is a famous union town, a reputation won on the docks. But this isn't the 1930s, and “budtenders” at cannabis dispensaries aren't the spitting image of striking longshoremen. Still, organizers with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 — which unionized about 100 workers at Oaksterdam University in May – are at this moment actively recruiting new members in San Francisco, and are looking to add cannabis cultivators as well as sellers to its ranks.

“The medical cannabis industry is a retail, agricultural and food processing industry, and Local 5 is a retail, agricultural and food-processing union,” said Local 5 organizer Dan Rush, who made this pitch to the city's patients and advocates at the Nov. 19 meeting of the Medical Cannabis Task Force at City Hall. “Local 5 is determined to bring dignity to the cannabis industry.”

This all sounds well and good, but dispensary owners – or workers – don't appear to be breaking down Rush's door in an effort to get their union cards. One Task Force member present for Rush's appearance characterized the reaction as “indifferent.”

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