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NAACP Calls For Legalization, Advocates For Cannabis Industry Workers

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently adopted a resolution at the 114th National Convention that renews its commitment to federal marijuana legalization and includes a new call to protect workers’ rights in the cannabis industry.

The resolution, passed by the organization’s delegates, outlines the NAACP’s advocacy for labor peace agreements which will help ensure a broad range of workers can benefit from the cannabis industry.

What Was In The Resolution?

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, laid out the resolution (page 69) by the organization,

“The majority of people in the cannabis industry will be workers rather than owners; and the workers who grow, process, test, distribute, and sell cannabis deserves a fair and safe workplace and family-sustaining job like every other worker.”

The measure further emphasizes support for unions, with the goal of helping people who have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.

“Access to union representation, training, and apprenticeship will help ensure that a broad range of workers can benefit from the cannabis industry, especially workers from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition in the past.”

“Unions have a long history of establishing hiring centers, workforce development programs, training and apprenticeships that ensure diverse, skilled, and long-tenured workforces and have led the way in creating an apprenticeship program that raises the standards for jobs and create pathways for an equitable opportunity for work and career advancement.”

The calls for cannabis policy reform would ensure individuals formerly incarcerated due to marijuana-related offenses have fair access to jobs in the cannabis industry. It also seeks to ensure that local communities most affected by the War on Drugs will benefit from legalization and economic opportunities provided by the growing marijuana market.

The outlined resolution also calls for federal legalization and de-scheduling of cannabis.

“The NAACP calls for the legalization and de-scheduling of cannabis at the federal level and reaffirms its past resolutions on cannabis, the cannabis industries, decriminalization, and equity, and expresses an intent to advocate for federal, state, and local medical and adult-use cannabis legislation that includes labor peace agreements as a condition of licensure and ensures that all cannabis workers from cultivation to sale to delivery are treated as employees under the National Labor Relations Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and Occupational Safety and Health Administration; including the right to join, form or organize a union.”

“As the cannabis industry continues to expand, we must center Black interests for both workers and entrepreneurs, as one of the ways to right the decades-long injustices we have faced at the hands of the ‘War on Drugs.’ Over the past several years, the cannabis industry has seen exponential growth and prosperity without progress for Black workers. This cannot continue. The NAACP is committed to ensuring that as this industry grows, benefits to Black workers grow with it. That’s what thriving together looks like. “– Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

The resolution has earned the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UCFW), which runs the Cannabis Workers’ Union.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone expressed gratitude and appreciation for the NAACP’s support of labor peace agreements saying in a press release:

“We applaud the NAACP for passing an Emergency Resolution on Behalf of Cannabis Workers. This marks a crucial step forward in ensuring employers and legislators understand the profound impact a worker-friendly cannabis industry could have on people of color. Cannabis industry workers, like every other worker, deserve safe workplaces and family-sustaining jobs. This is especially true for the formerly incarcerated and others disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.

“As America’s cannabis union, we again thank the NAACP for this resolution and for acknowledging the importance of cannabis organizing in achieving racial equity and making sure workers’ voices are heard at every level of the cannabis industry.”

The NAACP’s resolution seeks to ensure that legalization efforts will contribute to a more equitable distribution of economic opportunities. This includes promoting diversity, helping formerly incarcerated individuals access cannabis jobs with livable wages, and providing training and apprenticeship opportunities to develop a skilled workforce.


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