3 all-union dispensaries stand out as the ‘Gold Standard’ in an industry destined for enormous growth

When the clock struck midnight January 1st, thousands of Californians broke free from the heavy shackles of fear that forced them to seek refuge in the shadows. 20 years ago they were given a taste of the freedom when California voters approved a law permitting the medical use of marijuana.

But rebels to their core, these activists were not satisfied and continued to push forward for the full legalization of cannabis. Finally, state voters were convinced and Prop. 64 set into motion a process that brought tears to the eyes of cannabis connoisseurs all across the golden state as dispensaries were allowed to sell marijuana for recreational use to adults 21 and over.

According to the newly created Bureau of Cannabis Control, approximately 400 licenses were granted to businesses in California permitting the commercial sale of marijuana, a number that is likely to grow exponentially in the coming years.

The bureau’s director Lori Ajax, has been was busy giving interviews to international media outlets curious about California’s new law. Her agency ispredicting that as much as a billion dollars in tax revenue could be seen in the first year alone.

Statistics such as that came to light since the passage of Proposition 64. The creation of the BCC and subsequent staffing also took place during this period, which is exactly what many pro-cannabis activists were hoping for as they planned to implement the new law.

The lag time helped California avoid the kind of chaos and disorganization experienced by Colorado when recreational marijuana became legal there a year ago.

Union organizers took advantage of the additional time to directly address some of the negative experiences faced by residents where pot dispensaries opened in the past couple years. Dozens of cities statewide closed down many dispensaries when neighbors complained that they attracted a shady clientele and increased crime.

“We worked with the state to develop standards for dispensaries that would prevent many of those problems within communities since passage of the medical cannabis law,” said President Greg Conger.

The three full-service cannabis dispensaries who employ 100 percent union staff represent what Executive VP Matt Bell described as the crème’ of the crop in ways that can be measured with real statistics. The higher wages and benefits enjoyed by employees of the facilities, for example, marks one way to demonstrate their positive contribution to the community. But others point to more ethereal means of measuring success.

“In both our Santa Ana and Long Beach facilities, the owners went to great lengths to work closely with the municipal authorities and the men and women elected to represent neighborhood residents,” Bell said, outlining an elongated process that took years to come to fruition.

“In turn, the elected officials helped create a bridge to the local community that will give residents a chance to address issues with the facility owners early on, before they become bigger problems,” Bell added.

The grand openings of the three union facilities was greeted with unprecedented community support as city council members joined community activists to praise the aesthetic appeal of each projects and the high quality jobs they brought with them.

Bell said he was taken by how often the facilities have been cited as models for communities to follow as the legalization movement spreads across the country.