Unions won’t quit in IL; MO regulator quits; Detroit threatens to quit

Missouri governor’s office

Depriving news reports of subjects who can make a bow tie work, Dr. Randall Williams left the public eye last week when he resigned as director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services.

Illinois union activity spreads south

With two more Illinois dispensaries unionized over the last 30 days, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 881 announced last week another upcoming union vote for Jushi’s Beyond/Hello dispensary in Sauget, Illinois, in the St. Louis suburbs.

Last week UFCW announced the unionization of 36 workers at Ascend Wellness Holding’s Springfield, Illinois facility and the unionization of a Curaleaf Windy City dispensary in Chicago.

The Sauget vote, which will impact 40 employees, does not yet have a scheduled date for a vote.

Missouri head cannabis regulator quits with no explanation

With barely any explanation, Missouri’s top health official and the head cannabis regulator, Dr. Randall Williams, exited his job, along with the state’s chief operating officer, Drew Erdmann.

“I thought it was the best thing for the Cabinet, the best thing for the governor’s office, that we go in different directions,” Gov. Mike Parson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Both Williams and Erdmann were holdovers from Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in June 2018 amidst a sexual blackmail scandal. Last November, Parson was elected to his first full term.

During his term as Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, Williams oversaw the implementation of the state’s new medical marijuana laws, resulting in charges of corruption, a state legislative investigation, and an FBI probe on how licenses were handed out.

“Dr. Williams has been a huge asset to Missouri, especially this past year in dealing with COVID-19,” Governor Parson said in a written statement. Parson’s deputy chief of staff, Robert Knodell has been named acting director of DHSS.

Detroit threatens to take its ball and go home, if court interferes with its license game

The lawsuit filed to halt Detroit’s adult-use licensing process was delayed a month, and a filing by the city explicitly threatened to not allow any adult-use licenses if the proposed “legacy” program is not allowed to go forward.

A ten-year resident of Detroit, Crystal Lowe, who lived in next door River Rouge, Michigan for many more years, is suing Detroit in federal court on the grounds that the city’s adult-use licensing scheme, which reserves 50% of 75 dispensary licenses for residents of 15 years or more, creates a special class and is illegal under the Michigan constitution. The city currently has 42 non-legacy owned dispensary licenses in Detroit, meaning five would be left out in the cold.

Judge Bernard Friedman granted a temporary injunction, freezing the city’s licensing program, but was scheduled to hear arguments last Thursday on a more permanent halt to the program. But now the hearing has been rescheduled for late May, according to court documents.

Meanwhile, response documents filed by the City of Detroit, includes a statement by Councilman James Tate, the author of the city’s legacy program, warning that if the law is struck down, the city will not offer any adult-use licenses whatsoever.

“The City is not interested in participating in the state’s adult-use marijuana market if it cannot enforce its legacy provisions,” says Tate. “If the City cannot enforce its legacy provisions, then the City, through its Ordinance (§20-6-3(d)), explicitly opts the City out of this market in accordance with MRTMA, Section 6(1).”

The ordinance referred to by Tate includes an unusual poison pill, that says that if any part of the ordinance is struck down in court, the entire ordinance will be invalidated.