Big labour sees growth potential in California’s marijuana fields

Unions have caught a whiff of a rare opportunity to organize a whole new set of workers as recreational marijuana becomes legal in California.

The United Farm Workers, Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers are looking to unionize the tens of thousands of potential workers involved in the legal weed game, from planters to rollers to sellers. The move could provide a boost to organized labour’s lagging membership – if infighting doesn’t get in the way.

The United Farm Workers, co-founded by iconic labour leader Cesar Chavez, says organizing an industry rooted in agriculture is a natural fit and growers could label their products with the union’s logo as a marketing strategy.

“If you’re a cannabis worker, the UFW wants to talk with you,” national vice-president Armando Elenes said.

But United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery-store employees, meat packers and retail workers, registered its intent to organize cannabis workers across the country.

“We would hope they respect our jurisdiction,” UFCW spokesman Jeff Ferro said.

Teamsters organizer Kristin Heidelbach said there’s no need for unions to battle each other. There will be plenty of workers needing representation as small cannabis businesses run by “happy stoner” types give way to large pharmaceutical corporations, she said.

The green rush that begins in 2018 is an opportunity for unions to regain influence that began declining in the late 1950s, said David Zonderman, a professor of labour history at North Carolina State University. But discord between unions could upend it. As could resistance from cannabis-business leaders.

“Are they going to be new-age and cool with it,” Mr. Zonderman said, “or, like other business people, say, ‘Heck, no. We’re going to fight them tooth and nail?'” Last year, California voters approved sales of recreational marijuana to those 21 and older at licensed shops beginning Jan. 1.

Cannabis in California already is a $22-billion (U.S.) industry, including medical marijuana and a black market that accounts for most of that total, according to University of California, Davis, agriculture economist Philip Martin. Medical marijuana has been legal since 1996, when California was the first state to approve such a law.

Labour leaders estimate recreational pot in California could employ at least 100,000 workers from the north coast to the Sierra Nevada foothills and the San Joaquin Valley, harvesting and trimming the plants, extracting ingredients to put in liquids and edibles and driving it to stores and front doors.

Other pot workers have organized in other states, but California should be especially friendly territory for unions, said Jamie Schau, a senior analyst with Brightfield Group, which does marketing analysis on the marijuana industry.

The state has one of the country’s highest minimum wages and the largest number of unionized workers across industries. Its laws also tend to favour employees.

At least some workers say they’re open to unions.

“I’m always down to listen to what could be a good deal for me and my family,” said Thomas Grier, 44, standing behind the counter at Canna Can Help Inc., a dispensary in the Central Valley community of Goshen.

The dispensary – with $7-million in yearly sales – sells medical marijuana.

Called a “bud tender,” Mr. Grier recently waited on a steady flow of regular customers walking through the door to pick out their favourite strain.

So far, no unions have contacted him, he said. Mr. Grier gets along with his boss and said he doesn’t want to pay union dues for help ironing out workplace disputes. But he hasn’t discounted the possibility of joining.

After recently entering the marijuana industry, Los Angeles resident Richard Rodriguez said one sticky traffic stop three months ago converted him into a “hard core” Teamster. He’d never been in a union until this year.

Mr. Rodriguez said an officer pulled him over delivering a legal shipment of pot and detained him for 12 hours as he was accused of following too closely behind a truck.

A union lawyer stepped in, and Mr. Rodriguez said he was released without being arrested or given a ticket.

“Most companies can’t or are unwilling to do that,” he said, “because employees are easily replaced.”

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Top 3 Reasons Women Consume Cannabis

Ever wonder what the top 3 reasons women consume cannabis were? Luckily, a cannabis lifestyle brand has the answers you want.

A recent survey reveals the top 3 reasons women consume cannabis. This in-depth study of women and cannabis use comes from the female-focused cannabis lifestyle brand Van der Pop. Their goal was to learn more about the demographic they aspire to serve to the highest standard. Here’s what else the survey found.

The Survey

While medical marijuana programs, and to a lesser extent legalized recreational weed, are spreading throughout the United States, our neighbors to the north gear up for a nation-wide lift on cannabis prohibition. It seems that both countries are moving toward a happier, greener future. But we can’t make any meaningful changes without data!

The Seattle-based cannabis lifestyle brand, Van der Pop, primarily serves female clientele. To better understand the needs and concerns of their client base, they conducted a survey. The survey attracted a grand total of 1,530 women in the United States and Canada. They found that the top 3 reasons women consume cannabis are to manage pain and symptoms of various illnesses, alleviate stressand just to relax. To put it into numbers, 27 percent of women use weed for pain relief, 17 percent use it to relax and 31 percent use it to combat stress and anxiety.

Other Results

Despite the spreading legalization and acceptance of cannabis, an overwhelming 70 percent of women who consume cannabis think that there is a negative stigma attached to the herb. Furthermore, 66 percent of women surveyed reported hiding their usage at one point or another.

But stigma or not, North American women of all walks of life embrace cannabis. The survey also had a section for mothers who consume weed. 38 percent of Mary Jane-lovin’ moms even said that it made them “more patient and playful” with their kids. Furthermore, 46 percent of mothers reported that they would rather their children choose cannabis over alcohol. And the majority of mothers (89 percent!) surveyed talk to their kids about responsible cannabis use.

Van der Pop

Van der Pop calls itself “The Cannabis Digest For Discerning Women”. Located in Seattle, it was founded by April Pride with the goal of serving women who are both novices and veterans in the world of cannabis.

“It’s time to put the image of the under-achieving stoner to rest and have a frank conversation about where cannabis fits in the modern woman’s life,” Pride says.

Van der Pop’s website hosts an advice column, weekly newsletter and features about women in the legal cannabis industry. It even has an online store where you can buy accessories like grinder cards, vaporizers, and elegant containers. They also even sell hemp seed oil-infused skin care products!

Final Hit: Top 3 Reasons Women Consume Cannabis

We’re glad we have more data about women and cannabis use. But we also can’t help but lament the fact that so many women are still feeling the effects of the antiquated stigma attached to cannabis consumption. While the “stoner stigma” negatively affects everyone, it seems that women feel a sharper impact. This may be due to a combination of a lack of reliable information about cannabis and old-fashioned sexism. To combat this, it’s imperative that more women who consume cannabis speak up about their usage. An open dialogue about cannabis use could very possibly reduce and eventually eliminate the stigma attached to it.

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Medical Marijuana Reverses Tobacco Caused Ischemia

I don’t think I am making a controversial statement here by saying that weed is probably safer than tobacco. Sure, we are still producing minor carcinogens when combusting cannabis—but without all of the gross additives in cigarettes.

Aside from the big one (cancer), smoking cigarettes can cause a whole plethora of other problems, one being Thromboangiitis obliterans (TO), a disease that displays itself as the clotting of capillary blood vessels in the arteries/veins of our digits (fingers and toes) from inflammation of surrounding tissue. A case study out of Israel found that extensive use of cannabis reversed the effects of TO.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how cannabis may be doing this, let’s quickly go over some of the medical terms we will be seeing. Though the patient exhibited signs of Buerger disease (another name for TO), it was found because of what is called ischemia.

Ischemia is essentially the dying of tissue (skin/muscle)  due to lack of nutrients (i.e. glucose, oxygen, etc.) from poor blood circulation. This lack of blood flow was caused by the clotting from T.O. The disease is a direct result of tobacco use, whether it is smoking or chewing. While the mechanism by which tobacco produces these symptoms is unknown, the only people who have Buerger’s disease smoke tobacco. Interestingly, it appears as though men have a greater likelihood of acquiring Buerger’s disease, though this could be attributed to a higher rate of tobacco usage with men.

OK, let’s now get into the story. How did the doctor know to prescribe cannabis, especially when this relationship between medical marijuana and TO had never before been looked at before? The truth of the matter is that the doctor did not initially prescribe pot.The patient, who we will refer to as Bob, was a heavy smoker, nearly 2.5 packs of cigarettes per day. Bob came into the hospital with severe pain in his foot; he had a massive infection and ischemia due to T.O. It had progressed so bad that Dr. Robinson recommended an amputation below the knee. Bob refused and opted to self-medicate with marijuana, twice daily. After the first six months, his pain had reduced, and it continued to reduce for the next two and a half years. During this time, he also cut back on his cigarette smoking.

With the first six months down, Dr. Robinson was able to prescribe Bob medical cannabis in the form of what is called MCT (medical cannabis treatment), and Bob’s MCT dosage steadily increased over the course of a few years. After three years of MCT, and antibiotics for the initial infection, Bob’s ischemia had almost completely reversed—leaving minimal scarring.

Dr. Robinson attributed the cannabis’ action to the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, gradually returning blood flow to the ischemic limbs. He did note, however, that this is a case study, and no statistical significance can be attributed to cannabis’ effects on ischemic-reversal until further research is done. Until then, I think this is a beautiful study further showing the potential for cannabis in modern medicine and society!

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