A potential rule requiring marijuana shops, in order to get a license, to enter into labor peace agreements in an effort to prevent any work stoppages had one senator this week comparing the scheme to organized crime.
Under draft rules for marijuana facility licensing, which have not taken effect, a labor peace agreement would be required for those seeking licensure. It does not require workers in marijuana shops to unionize.
A labor peace agreement “means an agreement between a licensee and any bona fide labor organization that, at a minimum, protects the state’s interests by prohibiting labor organizations and members from engaging in picketing, work stoppages, boycotts, and any other economic interference with the applicant’s business.”
Marijuana Regulatory Agency Executive Director was grilled on the potential rule during a Senate Appropriations Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee meeting this week.
Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), chair of the subcommittee, said the rule gives third-party organizations too much power.
“You are giving an outside private entity, the union, the ability, if they don’t sign off on the application, to block every one of these applications,” Mr. Nesbitt said.
Mr. Brisbo defended the rule as a way to help ensure there is no gap in product as the agency is trying to bring consumers to a regulated market and away from a 90-year-old black market.
“We felt it was appropriate to have this condition because of the status of the market,” he said. “Because of the potential risks for disruptions to the success of the market, and the economic impact on operators and the potential impact to public health, safety and welfare.”
The rule, which is not part of the current emergency rules the adult-use system is operating under, is subject a public hearing that will happen sometime early next year.
Mr. Nesbitt compared the rule to a “protection racket,” paid to organized crime to keep businesses or other groups safe.
“As I see it under one scenario you are forced to protect yourself from the threats of organized crime,” he said. “In the scenario your agency has set up under its rules you are forced to protect yourself from the threats of organized labor. It’s very heavy-handed government.”
Mr. Brisbo disagreed with the analogy.
“To take that leap sir, with all due respect, one could make the argument that government in and of itself is organized crime,” he said.
Mr. Nesbitt said he would like to see a withdrawal of the rule, though Mr. Brisbo said he wouldn’t make a commitment either way. Mr. Brisbo did say Governor Gretchen Whitmer‘s administration and labor support the approach, though the rule wasn’t demanded nor was it requested by a particular party.
Cannabis business groups are also expressing some opposition to the potential rule. Michigan Cannabis Industry Association Executive Director Robin Schneider said on Michigan Public Television’s “Off the Record” that her members are split in support and opposition.
“We think it should be optional,” she said.
Ms. Schneider said if the agency provided an incentive, like lower fees, it would encourage those agreements.
“If the state really wants it that bad, I guess maybe find an incentive for it rather than making it a requirement for licensure,” she said.
The Great Lakes Cannabis Chamber of Commerce also opposed the potential rule in a statement, along with other potential changes on testing requirements and home delivery.
“The industry is facing major challenges with obtaining reliable, tested product,” said Sandra McCormick, membership and communications director for the group. “Adding burdens such as forced unionization while removing certain public health and safety standards means longer wait times and bad product making it to market.”