Pro-Pot Teamsters: Only in California

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Earlier this month, 40 marijuana growers in Oakland, California, joined the Teamsters union. This is good news for two reasons: 1) It's a nice sign of legitimacy for the folks trying to legally grow and sell weed in California, and 2) It means the Teamsters must be really desperate for members.

The new members work as gardeners, trimmers and cloners for Marjyn Investments LLC, an Oakland business that contracts with medical marijuana patients to grow their pot for them.

Their newly negotiated two-year contract provides them with a pension, paid vacation and health insurance. Their current wages of $18 per hour will increase to $25.75 an hour within 15 months, according to the union….

The work can be difficult and the hours long—and trimmers cannot count on federal labor regulations to protect them while doing work banned under federal law.

On the flip side, the union probably can't count on the National Labor Relations Board to play its traditional role if there's a conflict between the union and management:

Michael Leong, assistant regional director for the Oakland office of the National Labor Relations Board, said he did not know of any case in which the federal government had been asked to mediate a dispute involving a business that was blatantly illegal under federal law.

One reason that the organizing process went smoothly at Marjyn is because the firm is hoping that unionization will give them an advantage in the city's upcoming permitting process for large-scale growing operations. And the stakes are super high (sorry) for growers in California who have the capability to ramp up their scale significantly, because right now polls are showing a slight majority in favor of Prop. 19, which would legalize the sale and use of marijuana in the state and make it subject to taxation.

While the Teamsters haven't officially declared a position on the proposition, many other unions have come out in favor. As Reason noted last week, California's service workers union is backing Prop 19. The SEIU has 700,000 members, who will join members of Northern California ILWU, UFCW's Western Council, and UFCW Local 5 in supporting legalization.

If SEIU backing of Prop 19 was something of a surprise, at least one opponent won't shock you at all: The alcohol industry just dumped $10,000 into the main group opposing the proposition.

Last fall, Reason.tv asked whether weed farmers might campaign against legalization of their own product:

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  1. The alcohol industry just dumped $10,000 into the main group opposing the proposition.

    How long before Big Tobacco and Big Pharma follows suit? Or have they already thrown down?

    1. Marinol is a big money maker, from what I understand.

  2. “because right now polls are showing a slight majority in favor of Prop. 19, which would legalize the sale and use of marijuana in the state and make it subject to taxation.”

    Doesn’t matter. If it passes, Eric Holde will sue the state of California. But on the plus side, if the feds keep suing the states, effectivly overruling the will of the people, folks are gonna start noticing a pattern.

    1. That’s “Holder”. For some reason the ads cover my comment box sometimes.

    2. I think it’s extremely unlikely the Obama Administration would go against a voter initiative in one of their most loyal and influential states… At least at first. If by some miracle they get a second term, bets might be off.

  3. In Libertopia, the alcohol industry would have a tougher, meaner police force than the pot industry (or the puny contract-enforcing gendarmerie funded by the severly limited state)–end of story.

    1. ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Tell that to the Mexican drug cartels.

  4. One reason that the organizing process went smoothly at Marjyn is because the firm is hoping that unionization will give them an advantage in the city’s upcoming permitting process for large-scale growing operations.

    Because no one knows the subtle art of negotiation like the Teamsters.

  5. Well, it was always the Teamsters we went to in order to get the best weed on production sets.

  6. how did you geeks find a girl sympathetic enough to your misanthropic plight to do a video for you?

    1. So have you always been an asshole or did you take classes?

      1. In his defense, I thought the same thing…. Mostly out of jealousy. I just didn’t say it… Mostly out of jealousy.

    2. They found her on Hollywood Blvd, giving blowjobs for $20… same as in town, but you knew that.

  7. “Oh, I always wanted to be a Teamster. So lazy and surly.”

  8. Note Marjyn’s strategy here: its business plan is to be the most successful rent-seeker in the marijuana business, by using the Teamster’s political muscle to control the permitting process. A nice little parable, no?

    1. Still, I think Philip Morris, Reynolds, etc will win the big-money influence game here. Backed up by the BIG Pharma pholks who will want pot to be FDA-controlled — after all, the medical-mj people keep telling us it’s a drug. The Marjyn-style outfits will be regulated out of business.

    2. by using the Teamster’s political muscle to control the permitting process.

      It is their strategy…but I have my doubts as to its success. Pot is easier to grow then tomatoes and keeps better then rice.

      Such a product is impossible to keep unavailable when it is illegal and will only become more impossible when it is legal.

  9. In a saner world, the $10K from the alcohol companies opposing prop 19 would be more than balanced out by all the crazy money from 7-11, Frito-Lay and Ben & Jerry’s supporting it.

  10. My state is a wreck. It is run by lunatics and liberals–which bear no fundamental differences.

  11. Look for
    The Union label
    When you are buying
    A joint, lid or pound.

  12. Um, Katherine, just because the Teamsters are getting involved with a business, that doesn’t mean that the business is looking to shed its ties with organized crime and go legit.

    1. You might wanna re-think your comment, buddy – unless you want to get a first hand look at the bottom of Walden Pond.

  13. Big Deal! Hoffa and Organized Crime have been into drugs since the 20″s….Tell us something new….

  14. You know? This just might be the thing the Union needs to boost strike funds,..HummmMmmmmm…

  15. If you lay down with dogs, you’re going to get fleas.

  16. She looks like a horse.

  17. I wish I was that bud.

  18. i think we’re heading in the right direction for the legalization of weed. thank god! it will be freeing to some many people.. keep it real!

  19. 1) It’s a nice sign of legitimacy for the folks trying to legally grow and sell weed in California

    Are you high? Just what about joining the mafia could possible be viewed as “a nice sign of legitimacy”?

  20. Since when did the USA engage in QUACK medicine? There is no such thing as MEDICAL MARIJUANA. This is invented by pot users (mostly quack patients) and is misleading many. FDA has not approved marijuana smoke as treatment for any medical condition. It is like calling olive oil, MEDICAL OLIVE OIL. NO. Pot has to go through FDA just like olive oil. Olive oil was approved by FDA for health purposes. EXAMPLE: “The Food and Drug Administration has announced that olive oil producers could use a qualified health claim on labels that links the monounsaturated fat contained in olive oil with reduced risk of coronary heart disease. ” How about that medical carrots for the eyes? Give me a break. The USA people are really stupid.

  21. Weed hooks up with the mob … wonderful. That’ll win the PR wars.

    What a mistake.

  22. I was all decided to vote yes until the seiu backed the prop. This is an international union, does this mean more outsourcing of jobs eventually for cheaper wages like central and south america? Venezuela? This quickly changed my yes to a no instantaneously-same business on the other side of the street.

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