Not ‘Unlawful’: Unifor Hopes More Canna Clinic Employees Will Join Union Despite Marijuana Dispensary’s ‘Grey Market’ Status

Article by Sunny Freeman, Financial Post

Not ‘unlawful’: Unifor hopes more Canna Clinic employees will join union despite marijuana dispensary’s ‘grey market’ status

Canada’s largest private-sector union says it isn’t bothered that its first-ever group of medical marijuana union members work at an illegal pot dispensary.

Unifor spokeswoman Katha Fortier said Thursday it is in the process of negotiating a contract for all 40 employees at one of Toronto’s Canna Clinic marijuana dispensaries, which sells dried cannabis as well as oils and edibles, but does not have a Health Canada licence to do so.

Licensed producers are currently the only legal sellers of marijuana in Canada and their operations are strictly regulated. They can only sign up patients with a medical authorization from a doctor and can deliver product only through a mail order system.

Many dispensaries claim they are for medical marijuana and charge customers a fee to get an authorization from their healthcare professionals before selling them marijuana over the counter without a licence.

 “As a union, our legal relationship is between the workers and their employer,” said Fortier, assistant to Unifor’s president.

“Ultimately this is a group of workers, they receive pay from their employer, they pay normal deductions that everybody else pays when they go to work and the labour board, where the application goes to certify, says (the dispensary is) an employer.” 

Canna Clinic’s website claims it is “Canada’s leading provider of medical cannabis products and accessories.” It also lists a menu of products currently on hand at its locations in Toronto and Vancouver and offers daily deals such as 2 Toonie Tuesday’s “$4 pre-rolled joint.”

Unifor president Jerry Dias said in a press release that every worker has a right to unionize regardless of the legal status of the industry in which they work. The union is actively trying to seek out new workplaces to join amid a dramatic decline in unionization rates.

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