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Workers at DC's first solely Black-owned marijuana dispensary unionize

Workers at DC Holistic Wellness in Ward 7 unionized with UFCW Local 400

WASHINGTON — Workers at DC Holistic Wellness, the first 100% solely Black-owned cannabis dispensary in the District, have now become D.C.'s the first dispensary to unionize. 

“We’re proud to be the first 100% solely Black owned, operated and financed medical cannabis dispensary in DC,” said Norbert Pickett, owner of DC Holistic Wellness in a press release. “Now, we are particularly proud to be the first fully unionized cannabis shop in the District offering employees greater pay, paid time off, and paid holidays, as well as retirement plans, additional accredited training and health care insurance.” 

WUSA9 profiled Pickett back in 2019, when his shop was set to open its doors on Sheriff Road in Deanwood. 

Pickett was hit by a car back in 2012 and to deal with the pain, he would end up taking more pills than he could count. He credits marijuana with helping him get off opioids and deal with chronic pain.

"I tell people I'm a patient first, cannabis changed my life,"  Pickett said last year.

Now, Pickett and his employees are taking another major step by unionizing with United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Local 400. The contract was signed Wednesday.

UFCW Local 400 represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. 

“We are delighted to welcome the staff of DC Holistic Wellness to our union family,” said Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400 in a press release. “In this emerging industry, it is critical that we establish the highest possible job standard, with living wages and comprehensive benefits. By taking this historic step, these workers have set a meaningful precedent for the cannabis industry in the District.” 

The coronavirus crisis may also be sparking unionization efforts in the growing marijuana industry. 

DC Holistic Wellness and its 13 employees signed a five-year contract with the union. 

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