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The New York State AFL-CIO Outlines The Key Provisions and Labor Issues In The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act

Published Thursday, April 1, 2021
by The New York State AFL-CIO
The New York State AFL-CIO Outlines The Key Provisions and Labor Issues In The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) will allow adults aged 21 and over to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and establish parameters to grow their own product.

The Law will also expunge the record for people with past violations and automatically overturn current sentences.

The Bill will allow the use of “flowers” which can be smoked both for the medical and adult use program.

This will all take effect immediately.  

Key Labor Provisions for the Medical Program and Adult Use: The Bill is expected to create 30,000 jobs and has the potential for up to 60,000 jobs and it is expected to generate $350 million annually once fully implemented.  The Bill will allow the current Registered Organizations (ROs) in the medical program to participate in the adult-use program.  This is key because ROs are currently subject to Labor Peace Agreements (LPAs) and many have Unionized and are operating under Collective Bargaining Agreements.  These organizations will be allowed to apply for an RO adult-use license with the same authorization to participate in the adult use market as cultivators, processors, distributors and retail dispensaries, with three co-locations to retail the product to the public.  It is expected that retail sales will begin sometime in 2022.  Local governments may opt-out of allowing dispensaries to operate within their jurisdiction or for allowing on-site consumption, but cannot opt-out of personal adult-use. 

Labor Peace Agreements and Ongoing Operations - Non-RO applicants for all adult-use licenses to cultivate, process, distribute and retail will also be required to enter into LPAs. Moving forward, all ROs and other adult-use applicants will be required to participate in an LPA as a condition of license renewal.  Consideration of whether the applicant has entered into an agreement with a bona-fide building and Construction Trades Organization for construction work on licensed facilities is included.  Social and economic equity applicants, including MWBEs, will receive priority in licensing and renewal applications.  Funding for social equity programs moving forward is included in the language.  The New York State AFL-CIO, the Retail Workers and Department Store Union (RWDSU), the Workforce Development Institute and Cornell Industrial Labor Relations (ILR) have developed a Social Equity Program that will assist with this goal. 

Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board - This new state agency will be governed by Civil Service Law, staffed with Public Employees assigned to the appropriate Bargaining Unit and have access to the full rights and benefits of Public Sector Workers. 

“Legal Activity” Protections For Workers - Language that would have allowed employers to test and discipline or terminate their Employees for suspected cannabis use was rejected.  Instead, language ensuring that employers cannot discriminate against their Workers for lawful adult use cannabis was included.  Employers will have the ability to discipline Workers for incapacitation, use or possession at the workplace if they manifest specific, articulable symptoms related to the ability to perform their duties safely in the workplace - or if cannabis use while on the job could violate or jeopardize Federal Law or funding.  It is important to note Workers subject to Federal, State or Local Professional Licensing Laws Regulations, or subject to random drug and alcohol testing or other prohibitions on the use of drugs will still be required to comply with those standards

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