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  • Christopher D.

Empowering Missouri's Marijuana Workforce: The Push for Unionization in Dispensaries

Missouri's burgeoning marijuana industry is witnessing a transformative movement as workers across the state's dispensaries actively pursue unionization. The efforts, led by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Local 655, underscore the changing dynamics within the cannabis workforce. This blog explores the motivations behind this push for unionization and delves into why medical marijuana continues to be a crucial choice for patients in Missouri.

Unionization Gains Momentum

Sean Shannon, lead organizer with UFCW Local 655, initiated a comprehensive tour across the eastern half of Missouri, visiting approximately 100 dispensaries. The objective was clear — to discuss the prospect of unionization with marijuana dispensary employees. The initiative started with overwhelming positivity, but as managers got wind of the visits, the reception cooled considerably. Despite the initial challenges, the campaign gained traction, with over 20 locations in eastern Missouri authorizing Local 655 to represent them.

The next step involves filing a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), initiating the process for an election among employees to determine whether they want to unionize. Recent developments include employees at Hi-Pointe Cannabis in St. Louis following suit with petitions, reflecting a growing trend within the industry.

Why Unionize? The Realities of the Marijuana Industry

The "canna-bliss" of working with marijuana professionally, as described by Shannon, is beginning to wear off for many employees in Missouri. The initial excitement of being part of a burgeoning industry is giving way to the harsh realities of insufficient pay, subpar working conditions, and job instability. 

Danny Foster, a former cannabis worker supporting the union's tour, emphasizes that the industry hasn't delivered on the promises made to workers. Employees who initially entered with enthusiasm and a love for cannabis are finding themselves facing challenges that make it difficult to consider marijuana cultivation as a long-term career.

The recent settlement in favor of 10 Shangri-La South dispensary workers in Columbia, who collectively received $145,000 after being fired following a union organizing drive, serves as a significant motivation for others. Andrew Nussbaum, a veteran worker at Shangri-La South, emphasizes that job security is a primary concern. 

The settlement not only awarded backpay to unlawfully terminated employees but also paved the way for them to unionize. This success story reinforces the idea that a union can provide workers with the stability and protection they seek.

A Vital Choice for Patients

Amidst the push for unionization in Missouri, the relevance of medical marijuana cannot be overlooked. Patients in the state continue to find value in obtaining a medical marijuana card. The structured approach, professional guidance, and potential cost benefits make the medical program a compelling option. For individuals seeking therapeutic benefits without the uncertainties of the recreational market, a medical marijuana card offers a regulated avenue for accessing marijuana.

Will Braddum, a post-harvest technician at BeLeaf Medical’s Sinse Cannabis site in St. Louis, sheds light on a different battle. Employees at BeLeaf filed a petition for unionization, but the company argued before the NLRB that they are agricultural workers, not covered by the National Labor Relations Act. This legal gray area poses a challenge for those seeking to unionize in the manufacturing side of the cannabis industry. The outcome of this case will likely set a precedent for similar situations nationwide.


As Missouri's marijuana industry evolves, the push for unionization reflects the maturation of an industry once characterized by enthusiasm and novelty. The complexities of the workforce, coupled with legal challenges, emphasize the need for organized representation. 

Medical marijuana, on the other hand, remains a beacon of stability for patients navigating the evolving landscape. The unionization movement and the continued relevance of medical marijuana together shape the narrative of Missouri's cannabis industry, offering a glimpse into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Get Your Medical Marijuana Card in Missouri Today!

Although marijuana is now legal recreationally in Missouri, you should still get your medical card. If you have any questions, just give us a call!

There are so many benefits to having your medical marijuana card in a recreational state, including being responsible for less in taxes, saving at dispensaries, and higher possession laws.

If you don’t already have your medical marijuana card, we can help! Our doctors are standing by to take you through a quick and easy evaluation to see if you qualify. During your evaluation, they will be happy to answer all your questions about how cannabis may be able to help with your anxiety or any other medical conditions.

(877) 303-3117 to talk to a patient support representative.


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Missouri Marijuana Card, our mission is to help everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting the relief you can trust today!

Check out Missouri Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.

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