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California Marijuana Legalization Initiative Picks Up Big Labor Endorsement

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #640)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council announced Wednesday that it is backing Proposition 19, the California Tax and Regulate Cannabis marijuana legalization initiative. The Western States Council represents some 200,000 union members in Western states, including some 26,000 in California.

marijuana plants (photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia)
"The Western States Council is endorsing Proposition 19 based upon our previous support of the medical cannabis initiative, 1996's Proposition 215," George Landers, the council's executive director, said in a statement. "We view Proposition 19 as an enhanced version of the previous proposition, that creates taxable revenue and produces jobs in agriculture, health care, retail and possibly textile. We further believe that the proposition will deprive narcotics traffickers of a significant source of criminal revenue."

"The marriage of the cannabis-hemp industry and UFCW is a natural one," said Dan Rush of the union's Local 5, which in May began representing about 100 Oakland medical marijuana industry workers. "We are an agriculture, food-processing and retail union, as is this industry."

Rush has been assigned by the union to work on the campaign. "I'll be handling the strategy to bring in other unions, and their endorsements and resources," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Some other union locals in the state have already endorsed the initiative, as has the state NAACP, a number of law enforcement figures and a number of elected officials. (See the endorsement list here.)

Initiative supporters had hoped to gain the endorsement of the California Labor Federation, which met this week in San Diego, but ended up settling for the group to remain neutral, which it did. That means the organization's 1,200 member unions are free to endorse the initiative if they wish.

"Obviously, I would have liked to have had a full endorsement," said Rush, adding that the neutrality pledge would allow him to continue to try to win more labor endorsements. "I'm expecting to garner the endorsements of most of the major unions in California over the next several weeks," Rush said.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anybody got guesses on how long it'll take the rest of the democrats up for re-election this year to jump on the drug policy reform bandwagon? Sarah Palin, FOX and the Tea Party have already widely endorsed drug policy reform with broad success. Thanks largely to the internet, the public has become educated on the subject; now its up to politicians and lawmakers to listen to common sense.

Is our current president going to continue denying his true feelings about the drug war (expressed long before he took office), or will he finally do something right in the eyes of the public and embrace drug policy reform?

Either we are looking at a showdown between the federal government and California after they pass the voter initiative, or we have a leader wise enough to know when the gig is up.

In the immortal words of Bob Marley, "only time will tell."

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 3:48am Permalink

There are so many reasons to support Prop 19 in California that we sometimes forget some of them. Here is my list:

  • Reduce violence and crime
  • Reduce racially biased arrests
  • Generate $1.2B to $1.4B in taxes
  • Create 60,000 to 110,000 jobs
  • Reduce police corruption
  • Increase respect for police and the law
  • Free police to focus on property and violent crimes
  • Reduce prison costs and prison overcrowding
  • Expand California economy by $16 to $23 billion
  • Reduce drug cartels’ revenue
  • Reduce environmental damage from illegal grows
  • Allow adults to choose a safer alternative to alcohol

To read the studies documenting these outcomes, and for more information on Prop 19, please visit

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 12:02pm Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

* Eliminate recruitment of youngsters into $-billions-costly nicotine addiction by substituting a safer alternative to tobackgo $igarettes

* Create a handworking industry making millions of unambiguously legalized vaporizing one-hit utensils to replace harmful hotburning $igarette papers format

* Use cannabis to kindle the creative imagination, making agriculture and food processing jobs (or any jobs) more exciting for union members (or anyone)

* Promote reforestation by composting and cannabis planting in desert areas, cannabis being a renowned excellent invasive precursor crop for trees

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 3:55pm Permalink

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