If New York OKs recreational marijuana, unions may become big business issue

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A union official told the New York Post that labor hopes to unionize “many thousands of workers” if the state legalizes recreational cannabis – a move that could affect firms trying to break into the market.

“I think there are mixed feelings over unionized labor similar to any other industry,” cannabis attorney Rob DiPisa of Cole Schotz wrote in an email  to Marijuana Business Daily.

“Since most of these businesses are startups, the concerns I’ve heard relate to the additional overhead costs (mostly for cultivators/processors) that would need to be factored into” the initial investment by a business.

DiPisa is based in New Jersey, but he is closely monitoring the cannabis developments in New York.

He noted that “we just dealt with this because the most recent version of the New Jersey bill required unionized labor.”

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union represents a few hundred workers in New York’s medical marijuana program, including employees at multistate operator Vireo Health.

For its part, Vireo Health has actively supported unionization.

Vireo New York CEO Ari Hoffnung in October encouraged unionization of New York’s potential adult-use market in prepared testimony in front of a State Assembly panel.

Labor unions are increasingly becoming a part of the marijuana landscape, with unionization already happening in markets such as California, Minnesota, Washington state and Canada.