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Michigan’s economy was built by generations of innovators and workers who dared to dream boldly. Today, the cannabis industry is that entrepreneurial vision.

In the first two weeks of legalization in December, cannabis businesses generated more than $3 million in sales and more than $500,000 in new tax revenues. At a time when the decline in U.S. manufacturing is hurting families in Michigan and throughout the country, this is a much-needed boost for state economies.

As a cofounder and executive at medical cannabis companies in multiple jurisdictions, I have seen firsthand how our industry can effectively partner with labor unions to create good jobs and strengthen local communities. Michigan can — and will — achieve similar results. Labor peace agreements and, more importantly, collective bargaining agreements are the lynchpin for that success.

Labor peace agreements and prioritizing employers with a demonstrated history of collective bargaining in the cannabis industry help states to set high standards, incentivize good businesses, bolster worker voices, and strengthen consumer safety. Those pacts ensure that employers and unions work side-by-side to responsibly grow our industry. Unions pledge to abstain from strikes, boycotts, picketing and any other activity that could disrupt the employer’s business. Employers, in turn, agree to remain neutral during any union efforts to contact and organize the company’s workers. Finally, they enable employers to demonstrate a commitment to their valued workforces.

Investing in a strong, skilled workforce is vital to our industry’s long-term success. Labor peace agreements support worker freedom by empowering determined men and women to find a powerful voice for positive economic development.

In Michigan and other states with a new cannabis industry, labor peace agreements foster strong partnerships that help businesses and workers succeed. Across the cannabis industry and around the nation, unionized workers enjoy better pay, affordable healthcare, paid leave, and retirement benefits. They are also more skilled than non-union workforces, which ensures a better patient or consumer experience as well as innovation in product development.

Labor peace agreements will also reward responsible businesses and ensure that Michigan’s cannabis industry is strengthened by companies committed to making long-term investments in local communities. Michigan has a unique opportunity to make sure the state’s cannabis businesses are ready to meet high standards, create good jobs, and put consumers first.

The cannabis industry — and companies I run — in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland have been strengthened by the principled commitment that results from labor peace agreements. They would be instrumental to ensure that Michigan’s own cannabis businesses treat employees as strategic partners in this flourishing industry.

Where labor peace agreements are in place, everyone wins. I am proud to join leaders across the country who stand in witness of the promise of Michigan’s regulated cannabis industry and its ability to create good jobs and a stronger economy.

— Raj Mukherji is CEO and a director of the CannaPharmacy and CannTech companies as well as a State Assemblyman in the New Jersey Legislature, where he serves as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Deputy Speaker Pro Tem.

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