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Workers at a medical marijuana dispensary in Toronto's east end have joined Unifor, the country's largest private-sector union.

Forty workers – including reception, production, supervisors and packaging and retail staff – at the Broadview Avenue location of Canna Clinic are now represented by the union.

Unifor says it's believed to be the first time that marijuana dispensary workers in Canada have unionized.

Marijuana dispensaries are currently illegal in Canada. The only legal way for Canadian patients to purchase medical marijuana is directly from Health-Canada licensed producers, who ship it via mail.

Unifor president Jerry Dias said all workers have a right to unionize, regardless of an industry's status.

"This is a fast-growing industry, and with the advent of legalization, it is important that the workers have a voice and representation as the sector evolves over the coming years," Dias said in a news release.

The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018. However, details about where the drug will be sold have yet to be determined.

Canna Clinic has four other locations in Toronto as well as clinics in Vancouver. Unifor says it hopes that the organizing efforts at the Broadview dispensary will spark interest at the other locations.

Unifor says the union will begin to negotiate a first contract at the east-end dispensary.

Unifor organizing director John Aman said the workers cited safety and training as their primary concerns.

The NDP’s justice critic says the legal-marijuana legislation unveiled Thursday by the Liberal government is “long overdue.” Alistair MacGregor says the party will look at proposing pardons for those previously convicted of possession.

The Canadian Press