Moving the Green Economy Forward: Unionizing the Cannabis Industry for Career-Worthy Jobs

By Todd Walters, President of UFCW Local 135

In recent years, the legal cannabis industry has grown across the state, presenting a unique opportunity to shape it into a career-worthy field. UFCW Local 135, as San Diego’s cannabis union, envisions a future where cannabis workers are not only protected but also thrive in their careers.

Unionization brings with it a multitude of critical benefits that can revolutionize the cannabis sector. At the forefront is job security. In an industry marked by rapid growth and change, establishing job protections ensures stability for workers. This means that employees can pursue careers in cannabis with confidence, knowing they have a strong support system behind them.

Safety is another important concern. By unionizing, cannabis workers gain access to comprehensive safety protocols and training, safeguarding them in an environment that can present unique challenges. This is about more than just physical safety; it’s about providing peace of mind to workers and their families.

Crucially, unionizing the cannabis industry paves the way for equitable wages and benefits. These are not just jobs; they’re careers that deserve fair compensation. Through collective bargaining, we can establish industry standards that reflect the value of the work being done. This translates into a higher quality of life for workers and their families.

UFCW Local 135 proudly stands at the forefront of this movement, representing employees in key union shops like March and Ash, Pacabol, Stiiizy, Eaze, and MedMen. We’re currently in the process of negotiating, alongside other UFCW Locals, a statewide contract with Eaze, and will soon build off the historic first contract at March and Ash by negotiating the second one later next year.

Our commitment to the union cannabis cause is unwavering. We continue to actively organize in the cannabis space with one new contract near completion and another in the embryonic stage at two of San Diego’s original permitted dispensaries. The decision of cannabis workers to take the significant step towards unionizing their workplaces underlines the growing recognition of the pivotal role unions play in helping shape the industry.

As we look to the future, it’s evident that the green economy’s true potential lies in unionization. UFCW Local 135 is dedicated to realizing this vision, where cannabis workers not only have jobs but thriving, fulfilling careers. Together with our fellow UFCW Locals, we are building progress and creating a future where the cannabis industry stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through collective action.

The journey ahead won’t be without its challenges, but with determination and worker solidarity, we are poised to help establish a cannabis industry that not only abides by the highest standards but also offers lifelong, rewarding careers for its dedicated workforce.

If you’re a cannabis worker interested in learning more about the benefits of unionizing your workplace, don’t hesitate to reach out to UFCW Local 135 though our cannabis website: and our dedicated cannabis Instagram account: @ufcw135cannabis. Together, we can build a stronger, more prosperous future for all cannabis professionals.


Todd Walters is President of UFCW Local 135, representing over 12,000 workers throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties in various fields including grocery and retail; health, pharmacy and dental; meat and sugar processing; casino service; and cannabis.

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