Union ‘peace agreement’ obligation erased from Michigan marijuana industry rules

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While there were multiple contentious rules proposed for Michigan’s marijuana industry, one involving labor unions elicited the most passionate response at a public meeting in February.

The requirement for marijuana businesses to enter what was dubbed a “labor peace agreement” has been removed from the final version of marijuana industry rules expected to take effect June 22, Marijuana Regulatory Agency spokesman David Harns said.

Also notably missing from the final version of the rules is the ability for a business to be licensed solely for marijuana delivery and a clause that would have allowed the state to force sales between marijuana growers and retailers, who may also be competitors. The intent behind the rule, which received blowback from large, vertically integrated marijuana companies that produce and sell their own marijuana, was to prevent shortages among smaller retailers without their own marijuana supply.

All 100-plus pages of the final rules are available here.

Some Republicans believed the labor peace agreement was an attempt to unionize, while Democrats and Marijuana Regulatory Agency Director Andrew Brisbo said it was intended to protect the new, vulnerable industry.

The proposed rule would have required every marijuana business to sign a peace agreement with a union before being granted a license.

“A labor peace agreement is an agreement between an operator and a recognized labor organization just to ensure that both sides come to the table,” Brisbo said in February, “that the business owner won’t stand in the way of organization by the staff of the facility and that the labor organization wouldn’t push the labor force into a strike situation.

" ... Other states have adopted a pretty similar philosophy. We took a pretty broad approach. We didn’t want to dictate specifically what the agreements were supposed to look like, just create that connection between the industry and labor organizations.”

The state legislature passed concurrent resolutions opposing the agreement mandate in January.

“These labor peace agreements are really a Mob-style shakedown of these new businesses that are growing,” Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, said in January. “At least the Mob lets you get going first. They won’t even issue a license unless you sign one of these labor peace agreements."

In order for the Marijuana Regulatory Agency rules to become law, they need the support of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), currently comprised of six Republican and four Democratic lawmakers.

After the final rules are submitted to JCAR, the body has 15 sessions to take action or amend the rules. JCAR members voted to forgo the allotted consideration period during their meeting Wednesday.

Sen. Ed McBroom, a Republican whose district covers most of the Upper Peninsula, was the only JCAR member to vote against allowing the rules to be submitted without waiting for the 15-session consideration period to expire.

“I continue to be opposed to the promulgation of marijuana and its usage in our state and in our society at large," McBroom said, "and will remain in opposition to any expediting of its adoption.”

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