California medical marijuana dispensary unionizes

The Sacramento BeeOctober 25, 2011 

A nearly 2-year-old Orangevale medical marijuana dispensary said Monday that it has become the first in the Sacramento area to unionize.

The 20 employees at Magnolia Wellness at 9198 Greenback Lane are now active members of UFCW 8, also known as the Golden State United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

"We are extremely happy to have Magnolia Wellness on board," said Darin Ferguson, district union representative of UFCW 8. "We believe they are a legitimate business providing an important service in their community."

UFCW claims more than 30,000 members throughout the western United States. Full union benefits include paid health insurance, paid vacations/holidays, bereavement leave and individual savings plans.

"We are a real business helping real people with ailments," said David Spradlin, Magnolia's director. "By becoming part of a strong union, we are letting our employees, patients and the community know that we are here for the long run."

Unionization adds another level of uncertainty amid a recent federal crackdown on local medical cannabis dispensaries – actions that have produced widely varying opinions among legal, medical and government experts.

Federal officials have threatened to seize California properties of landlords who lease to dispensaries or medical marijuana cultivators.

The feds' campaign was bolstered earlier this month when the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal said that the city of Long Beach's dispensary plan was an "obstacle" to federal drug law.

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