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This Labor Day, Thank a Cannabis Worker

Amy Oppedisano | August 30, 2019

For many people Labor Day is simply a reason to barbecue and wave a bittersweet farewell to summer.  The true ethos behind Labor Day is to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers.  While American workers have done some cool shit over the years, I would argue that cannabis legalization is the most culturally significant revolution since the advent of the internet.  America is supposed to be the land of the free and if nature is illegal, are we really free?  In a very short time we went from imprisoning people for the tiniest amounts of cannabis to freely purchasing everything from prerolls and edibles at legal dispensaries to cannabis themed makeup products at Sephora.  American cannabis workers have been fighting for this freedom for decades and we are finally very close to seeing the final bricks of prohibition crumble.  States have tipped the scales and many of us believe we are on the precipice of a cannabis policy shift from the federal government.  I would say that is a RADICAL social and economic achievement that has many positive implications for our future!  Thanks America!!!!

Legal cannabis creates jobs, increases tax revenues, reduces incarceration rates and is showing vast promise in treating certain health conditions.  Of course we are enthusiastic about all of this opportunity, yet a provision in the IRS tax code prohibits cannabis businesses from taking deductions which combined with steep state and local taxes puts our overall tax contributions through the roof.  On the flipside we are watching as giant American corporations earn billions in profits and benefit from tax loopholes that leave them with a zero-dollar tax bill.  Someone needs to make up the difference and it seems governments and regulators are looking to cannabis as the answer.  While many people would say “you’re lucky you are even allowed to operate, quit crying!” the issue really comes down to equal treatment and how that affects our customers and employees.  Many of our medical patients simply cannot afford their medication anymore.  Most legal cannabis operators are struggling to simply survive in an environment where operating costs are extremely high.  Many cannabis enthusiasts opt to migrate over to the black market whose prices are lower, yet the products are unregulated which means the consumer has no transparency over what they are buying.

This Labor Day, thank a cannabis worker

News outlets have long talked about the issues cannabis businesses face due to their inability to access traditional banking, yet this isn’t the only area in which cannabis business are denied the same rights and privileges as traditional American businesses.  Cannabis companies are often left with little to no choice about who we work with when it comes to service because most companies won’t work with us out of fear of federal punishment.  Blüm has been turned away for everything from payroll services, healthcare for staff, life insurance, office space and more.  Each time we are booted out, we have to start from scratch which can be a major setback to our business.  For instance, a few years ago we received notice our payroll company was kicking us out two weeks before the holidays.  Our staff is made up of hardworking, tax-paying American citizens who are working in state-compliant businesses because they need to put food on the table just like the everyone else.  They deserve the same fair and equal treatment as the rest of the labor force in the US.  

“The most disheartening part about being kicked out or rejected by a Payroll Provider is not about the time and labor that went into its due diligence and building out the system, but the pure fact you are being rejected based on a surface level stigma. In all my time at Terra Tech, we have gone above and beyond to make sure our employees feel as though they are not being subject to discrimination based on industry. We provide fully paid-by-employer health benefits, a 401k plan with a competitive company match, quarterly bonuses for non-exempt retail employees and a great PTO plan. When a payroll provider turns you away, it is not just you they are saying “no” too. It is our entire team, their families and everyone in the future who wants to help the legal cannabis business grow. The lack of empathy and respect for an industry that is creating millions of jobs across the country is what always stings the most."

- Hailey Williams, Director of Corporate Operations, Terra Tech Corp.

Cannabis is also an incredibly unique economic stimulator since its cultivation, processing and distribution are required to stay within state lines and therefore cannot be outsourced.  While America has watched their manufacturing and customer service jobs sail away overseas, legal cannabis is poised to infuse our country with a massive jobs creation opportunity.  We certainly hope that the federal government recognizes this as they consider legalization.  Cannabis legalization is also an issue that brings about an ethical employment conversation.   In an underground work environment there is no guarantee of protections when it comes to fair labor practices or discrimination.  If things don’t work out for an employee at an illegal shop that employee has no recourse to protect themselves from discrimination or unlawful labor practices.  Illegal shops typically pay employees in cash which can also make it difficult for them to provide proof of income in order to obtain housing or transportation.

With the end of prohibition on the horizon, we simply hope to raise awareness to some of these issues in an effort to get them resolved.  Many more Americans will be entering the cannabis workforce in the coming years and each and every one of those individuals deserves a safe and fair working environment.  This Labor Day as you barbecue and puff away on a fat doob, please remember those workers who believed in cannabis so whole-heartedly they sacrificed certain freedoms to bring you the right to openly enjoy cannabis!

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