As cannabis businesses organize conferences to exchange information and opportunities, some cannabis industry representatives are organizing as a show of strength and solidarity with low-wage workers from the hospitality industry.
From Oct. 11 to 13, 2018, the Oakland Marriott City Center will play host to the New West Summit 4.0, a cannabis industry event that advertises to focus on “game-changing, disruptive developments in the industry, science, investment and media.” The event has panels scheduled with prominent figures in the cannabis space, such as Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo, hip-hop rapper and Cookies founder Berner, Weediquette host Krishna Andavolu and television personality Ricki Lake.
But while the cannabis industry is set to share the latest in cannabis science, nearly 8,000 housekeepers, room service staff, and other service workers have walked out of 23 Marriott-owned hotels in San Diego, San Jose, Detroit, Boston, Maui, Oahu, and Oakland to fight for living wages and workplace safety, according to an Oct. 10, 2018 Vox report. The hotel chain’s workers strike reaches the Oakland Marriott, the host of the New West Summit.
Many of the conference organizers and attendees have decided to cross the picket line in order to attend the conference. But some in the cannabis industry are standing in solidarity with the Marriot strikers in Oakland and across the nation.
“We as people fighting to end the global war on drugs, cannabis business owners, and legal and service providers to the cannabis industry are standing in solidarity with the 8,000 Marriott workers on strike, and will not be crossing the picket line at the Oakland Marriott to attend the New West Summit,” wrote Frances Fu, Rhana Hashemi, and Lalitha Thirunagari of the Center for Political Drug Education in an open letter. “It’s time for us to show what kind of industry we aspire to be by supporting the health and human rights of Marriott workers.”
The open letter urges others in the industry to to stand in solidarity with the Marriott workers.
“In writing this statement, we do not intend to antagonize the New West conference; rather, we recognize that we as a cannabis industry and movement are powerful,” the letter reads. “In choosing not to cross the picket line, we are making a powerful statement to the Marriott that we as a cannabis industry are watching their actions and are holding them accountable to higher standards of how they treat their workers.”
The letter is signed by individuals in the cannabis space, such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Executive Director Erik Altieri Executive Director and Sonia Erika of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, and organizations, including Supernova Women and Magnolia Wellness.
The letter can be read and signed through a Google Form.
Two other prominent cannabis events are taking place later this month: CannMed 2018 in Los Angeles and the CWCB Expo in Boston.
CannMed 2018 will take place Oct. 22 to 24, 2018 at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center and will feature more than 31 oral presentations and seven panel discussions with the “world’s top medical cannabis researchers.” The topics include treating cancer, neurological disorders and opioid addiction with cannabis; women’s health; cryptocurrency and blockchain in the cannabis industry; and developments in cannabis genetics.
CWCB Expo will take place Oct. 17 to 20, 2018 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The event will have workshops, networking mixers, industry updates, and a keynote address from Montel Williams.
Photo by Rich Hay