Cannabis group's national plan launching 420 aims to help workers, 'bring dignity' to pot

United Weed Workers, formed in Hamilton, says the goal of a national campaign set to launch April 20 — commonly known as Weed Day, or 420 — is to help workers understand their rights, organize and improve job conditions.

Hamilton workers with United Weed Workers plan April 20 start of campaign

Cannabis workers with Hamilton-based United Weed Workers are rallying together to improve working conditions in the pot industry. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

A group of Hamilton cannabis workers looking to improve working conditions in the pot business plans to launch a national campaign on April 20 — or 420, commonly known as Weed Day.

United Weed Workers says the group's goal is to help workers understand their rights, organize and improve job conditions.

"Some of the stories workers have told us concern a lack of [personal protective equipment] during COVID, their companies operating without a proper robbery and violence prevention strategy, and promises of wages and benefits that do not manifest through proper company administration," the group says in a release.

"In the agricultural sector, workers have been unable to organize despite their efforts due to government intervention and migrant labour issues."

The campaign comes after cannabis Hamilton stores Canna Cabana and Tokyo Smoke Rymal voted to unionize.

"During this process, networking with stores in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta realized the opportunity for further organizing," United Weed Workers says. "Since then, more stores have begun to successfully organize in this city and beyond."

How 420 started

The term 420's origins date back to the early 1970s, when a group of California high school friends gathered at 4:20 p.m. on April 20 on a mission to hunt for an abandoned cannabis crop. The term 420 became their code word for pot, and the day has also been targeted for cannabis legalization marches.

Recreational cannabis use has been legal in Canada since Oct. 17, 2018.

United Weed Workers will launch its website with a toolkit, resources and information about social justice issues across the cannabis industry.

"We aim to support and inspire workers to bring equity and dignity to cannabis, and remain conscious of the issues everyone faces," the release said.