October 7, 2011


(Washington, D.C.) – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the nation’s largest retail worker organization, demands an immediate end to the U.S. Attorney’s misguided prosecution of operators of small dispensaries of legal medical cannabis in California.

In the past year, thousands of hardworking and taxpaying medical cannabis industry workers have joined together with the UFCW in various states in order to protect their jobs in this emerging industry.   In today’s economy, hourly wage jobs like these that pay good wages with decent benefits are vital to keeping our economy afloat and families out of poverty.

At a time when the unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent, our economy requires bold action from our government to create good family-sustaining jobs. The steps taken by the four California U.S. attorneys to send letters Wednesday and Thursday notifying at least 16 medical dispensaries and their landlords that they are violating federal drug laws would do just the opposite.

“I have a good middle class American Job with good health benefits and a pension that I can look forward to,” said Larry Richards, a UFCW Local 5 member and a manager at the Blue Sky Dispensary in Oakland, California. “Because of our industry and our union I am able to be a productive breadwinner and, as a person living with HIV since 1983, I have fought and struggled not to be a drain on society. I want to work, I want to be productive but now, they want to take my job and put me back on the rolls of Social Security.”

UFCW proudly stands with our members in the Humboldt Growers Association, the Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods Committee of Colorado, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, and our coalition partners in MendoGrown, the Patients Care Alliance, the National Cannabis Industry Association, and the Citizens Coalition for Patient Care.

Medical cannabis is a safe and effective treatment option for many serious medical conditions including cancer, and patients should not be forced to purchase their medicine from criminals, drug dealers, and thugs.  If the federal government closes commercial dispensaries and collectives in California, patients will have no safe access to their medication.  In addition, thousands of workers will be forced from their jobs in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

UFCW and our members are dedicated to a dignified, controlled, taxed, regulated, compliant, unionized medical cannabis industry.  We stand in solidarity with the workers and patients of the unionized medical cannabis industry.