Local 400 has reached an agreement with Bethesda Biomedical, Inc. to represent medical marijuana workers in Maryland once the state approves the company’s license to operate.

The agreement guarantees high wages, healthcare, a retirement pension and other benefits to future employees of Bethesda Biomedical. The contract covers pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, cultivators and laboratory technicians on both the manufacturing and retail sides of the business.

“As with any pharmaceutical product, it is critical that the manufacturing process is safe and well-regulated,” said President Mark Federici. “By signing this agreement, Bethesda Biomedical has shown that they are dedicated to developing this industry in a way that provides good middle-class jobs with living wages and proper benefits for a well-trained and qualified workforce. We look forward to working with Bethesda Biomedical to bring relief to long-suffering patients.”

UFCW already represents thousands of workers in the medical marijuana industry across the country. In an effort to maintain high employment standards in this growing sector, today’s agreement was modeled after a similar collective bargaining contract negotiated by UFCW Local 1198 in Minnesota.

“I am proud of the working relationship that we have established with UFCW Local 400,” said Brian Caldwell, president of Bethesda Biomedical. “Working with other industry leaders to ensure employees have livable wages, health care, pension and benefits, while ensuring a safe working environment is critical to our belief in being a good community partner. I believe that business and labor can be productive together and create an even more viable industry.”

Both parties anticipate the company’s license will be approved by the state of Maryland before the end of the year and operations could begin as early as January 2016. Meanwhile, Bethesda Biomedical is currently investigating potential manufacturing sites in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and a retail space in Takoma Park.