This week the National Labor Relations Board took up an unfair labor practices complaint filed by marijuana workers in New Jersey.
This tells us two things about the business of pot. First, it has matured to the point where its workforce is claiming the right to fair treatment under federal law. Second, the federal government is still wrestling with how to regulate a legitimate industry that’s sort of illegal.
Let’s start with the broader picture, murky as it is. The distribution or sale of marijuana is still illegal under federal law and labeled a “serious crime” by the U.S. Department of Justice.
But as several states undertook to legalize the weed to various degrees (see accompanying map for the current state of play), the DOJ in 2013 — in a document known as the “Cole Memo” after its author, Deputy Atty. Gen. James M. Cole — said it would take a largely hands-off approach to enforcement. It would prioritize things like keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors and profits out of the hands of criminal gangs, but leave most other enforcement in the hands of state and local authorities. [Read more from Columnist Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times]
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