UFCW: Why I'm Attending the CA Unity Conference
May 16, 2012
I will be attending the CA Unity Conference and Lobby Day because I support the hardworking, taxpaying medical cannabis members of my union, the United Food and Commercial Workers. I am a proud member of UFCW Local 5’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, and a Special Projects Union Representative for Local 5. My Local was the first in the nation to start organizing cannabis workers in 2010 with the Oaksterdam family of businesses, and was a lead coalition partner in support of Proposition 19. Since then, medical cannabis workers have joined our union throughout California; in Sacramento, San Francisco, the Emerald Triangle, Los Angeles, Marin County, San Jose, and other areas across the state. We were also proud coalition partners with the Citizens Coalition for Patient Care referendum campaign in San Jose, which overturned the bad ordinance that would have effectively banned medical cannabis dispensaries. Workers have also joined UFCW’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division in Colorado and Michigan, and we will soon be organizing in other medical cannabis states across the country. By joining UFCW Local 5, our cannabis members have secured health insurance, a good wage, retirement benefits, paid holidays and sick leave, and most importantly, a dignified work environment through our collective bargaining agreements. Medical cannabis workers are just like any other person trying to make a living in our Union, and we are proud to stand in solidarity with them. I will be there Monday to urge my elected officials to vote “Yes” on A.B. 2312. We need to send a message to Washington D.C. that we support a dignified, regulated, unionized medical cannabis industry, and it’s time for these outrageous attacks on regulated producers and distributors of medical cannabis to stop now! Nearly 150 of Local 5’s cannabis members are out of work since the Obama administration’s inexplicable attacks on California’s medical cannabis workers began last fall. The President has always gone out of his way to say that he will not go after medical cannabis users abiding by state law, but has given a blank check to an out of control Justice Department to attack medical cannabis producers. We need to send a message to our elected officials that they can’t have it both ways on medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is overwhelmingly popular; a recent Mason-Dixon poll shows that 74% of Americans disagree with the Obama administration’s attacks on legitimate medical cannabis providers. It is simply ridiculous to tell sick and suffering patients that they can have medical cannabis, they just can’t legally get it anywhere. That is like telling a cancer patient that she can have morphine, she just has to synthesize it herself from her backyard poppy flowers! Without continued access to safe, legal medicine, the only other option for most patients is resorting to the criminal market, sending more money and power to violent gangs and cartels. Let’s put our UFCW medical cannabis members back to work by supporting A.B. 2312 and the ASA/UFCW California Unity Conference and Lobby Day. I hope to see you in Sacramento. Matt Witemyre is Special Projects Union Representative, UFCW Local 5 Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division. If you are a medical cannabis worker or cultivator and you would like more information on the benefits of joining the United Food and Commercial Workers, e-mail him at MattW@ufcw5.org.