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  • Eli Hunt

As the Cannabis Market in Virginia Grows, Employees are Focused on Fair Labor

As cannabis sales continue to grow in the US, it is becoming increasingly clear that the labor movement is having a strong influence in the space. Cannabis workers across the country are unionizing and coming together to ensure that they have fair and legal working conditions, pay and benefits. This trend is also happening in Virginia, meaning that Virginians who get a medical marijuana card can rest assured that they are not only increasing their own well-being but also supporting an industry that balances the need for growth with employee well-being!

Support for Labor Built into Virginia Cannabis Statutes

The legislators who originally drafted the legalization bill were sure to include language related to labor. This was in keeping with a growing trend and based on the understanding that cannabis had the potential to provide a wide range of jobs to workers in the Commonwealth.

Of the more than 35 states in the US that have made either medical or recreational cannabis legal, six have established language in their statutes that require or encourage labor peace agreements between cannabis employers and employees.

This language will ensure that cannabis businesses in Virginia do not discourage unionization. On the employee side, labor peace agreements ensure that employees will not engage in work stoppages that stall out the cannabis industry as it continues to expand at a rapid pace in Virginia.

A New Governor, A New Approach to Legalization

Of course, all of this may change with the recent election of Glenn Youngkin as Virginia's Governor. Youngkin and a Republican-led assembly could not only move against labor and criminal justice reforms supported by the Democrats, but also work against the eventual legalization of recreational marijuana.

This could all potentially lead to a serious slowdown in the industry. Workers seeking refuge from retail and restaurant work as a result of cultural shifts and the pandemic may find themselves without the necessary jobs or support for labor in the cannabis industry. For now, cannabis advocates are in a period of 'wait and see' as they await the Youngkin administration and the start of the 2022 assembly session.

Why Unions: A Brighter Future for Cannabis Workers and Employers

Why are cannabis workers turning to organized labor as the industry grows? A report published by the Economic Policy Institute recently showed that unionization had many positive effects on workers and employers alike.

For workers, unionization in cannabis jobs means that this fast-growing industry will not leave them behind. Cannabis workers in unions are more likely to have a higher wage, more consistent employment, and more opportunities for advancement.

Unionized cannabis employees are also more likely to receive access to essential benefits, including health care and paid leave. Finally, unionized workers in the space will also be more likely to benefit from fair scheduling with decent turnaround times between shifts.

The EPI study also showed benefits for cannabis employers. Labor peace agreements resulted in increased alignment between employee and employer, resulting in fewer conflicts. Cannabis businesses with unionized workers, as a result, can expect more consistent work, fewer work stoppages, and a more invested workforce by and large.

Social Equity in the Cannabis Industry

Unionization in the cannabis space will not only benefit workers at large, but also workers of color, as well. The EPI report also stated that the average unionized worker working in the cannabis space could realize thousands more in income each year when compared to non-union workers. This effect would be even more dramatic for workers of color. It is estimated that POC working in cannabis who are unionized will see pay rates that are 32 percent higher than rates earned by non-unionized POC workers.

Since Virginia legalization statutes had social equity written into them from the beginning, these benefits for POC working in the cannabis industry will only reinforce the social improvements the state hopes to realize through legalization. By legalizing cannabis in the Commonwealth, Virginian legislators aspired to right some of the wrongs waged against communities of color during the war on drugs.

Success for workers in the cannabis space means success for workers in multiple sectors across Virginia. One of the most significant virtues of the cannabis industry is that it offers opportunities of employment to workers with a wide range of skills and education levels. Cannabis provides opportunities to those with ambitions in retail, processing and administration, as well as in the cultivation sector. As workers continue to resign from other sectors in Virginia, including retail and hospitality, cannabis will provide a safe and welcome haven to employees looking to thrive in a growing industry.

Get Your VA Marijuana Card Now!

Medical marijuana is befitting workers in the state and creating a more vibrant, healthy society for the Commonwealth. Virginians who want to use a medical marijuana card to enjoy relief from symptoms related to a wide range of conditions can know that they are helping to grow an industry that supports workers, equity, and more.

The cannabis doctors and patient support staff at Virginia Marijuana Card can answer all the questions you may have about medical marijuana. We’ll take the time to answer all your questions, and follow-up appointments are free for the entire 12 months that your medical card is valid through us. Schedule an appointment with an online medical marijuana doctor today, to start gaining access to safe, legal cannabis products, including tinctures, flower, concentrates and more.


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness

safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on

education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by

providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

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Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.

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