In a cannabis industry that is still growing, legal problems are expected to continue to arise. It is par for the course in any new and expanding industry to see lawsuits occur against both businesses and individuals. Recently, a class-action lawsuit was announced to be filed on behalf of “budtenders” and other dispensary workers against dispensaries claiming that they were underpaid, paid in cannabis, or not paid at all.
Details of the Class-Action Dispensary Lawsuit
According to Green Entrepreneur, “The new class-action lawsuit claims “budtenders” and other people who have worked in dispensaries may be overworked, underpaid, forced to work through lunch, paid in weed, not paid at all, or paid under the table.”
Other claims made in the class-action suit include: workers not being paid overtime wages, being misclassified as independent contractors, and being forced to work through their lunch breaks. These and other claims are serious and cast a dark shadow on the dispensaries being accused. In most cases, the dispensaries that are mistreating or not paying employees are small and new or are not operating legally.
The hosting site, classaction.org, has not yet disclosed which dispensaries have been accused and it also still allows for other dispensary workers to join the suit. Although the practices outlined above are shameful, they should not come as a surprise to though who work in or follow the cannabis industry closely.
Cannabis is still federally illegal and even states that have legalized cannabis for recreational and or medicinal use still haven’t fully fleshed out their regulatory policies. In these cases, many businesses find the reward of paying workers low wages or not paying them at all greater than the risk of legal repercussions. Whether or not this class action lawsuit succeeds is not the key point of importance. What is important is that dispensaries understand that they cannot continue to take advantage of their hired workers. As Lindsey Bartlett, writer for Green Entrepreneur states, “This will be a moment in the cannabis industry timeline where companies that have treated workers poorly could potentially see karmic debt returned.”
Class action lawsuits typically bring about change that impacts industries for years. This ongoing “budtender” class action suit has the potential to force dispensaries to adhere to employee pay laws and consider the well-being of their employees. The cannabis industry is still in its infancy and has struggled to gain main stream legitimacy. One way to increase legitimacy is to guarantee fair pay to all employees within the cannabis industry.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.