In response to the cannabis industry’s growing need for more efficient advocacy, four major marijuana trade organizations and advocacy groups from around Washington state have reorganized under a new nonprofit trade organization: The Cannabis Alliance.
The following four Washington-based groups have agreed to fully merge for the betterment of the industry: the Coalition for Cannabis Standards & Ethics (CCSE), the Washington Marijuana Association (WMA), the Northwest Producers and Processors Association (NWPPR), and the Committee for Adult Use and Ethics of Marijuana (CAUSE-M).’ A fifth organization, the Washington Federation of Marijuana Businesses (WAFMB), has been in talks about folding into the alliance, as well.
“We were not being as efficient as we felt we could be,” said Lara Kaminsky, who currently serves as Interim Executive Director for The Cannabis Alliance.
“As four nonprofits, we [were] all vying after the same membership base,” said Jedidiah Haney, The Cannabis Alliance’s Interim Board Secretary. “In a few years, we would basically go from hand in hand to shoulder to shoulder, and it would be a competition,” he said. “We think that having an organization such as The Cannabis Alliance — which keeps bringing cohesive, synergistic members into the fold and [is] a greater and better, more vital organization for the membership as a whole — is the right way to go.”
The Cannabis Alliance has been in the works since September, 2014. Though it was unclear early on how the new organization would unfold, it became inevitably apparent that Washington’s cannabis industry would be better served by a more conglomerated advocacy effort.
“We are looking at the industry as a whole and saying, ‘how can we help bolster the industry through education and influencing public policy, to help the industry become sustainable?'” Kaminsky told Ganjapreneur. “Relationship building, information gathering, education, good policy decisions — these are the things that we work on daily.”
Ultimately, The Cannabis Alliance strives to ensure a sustainable, vital and ethical cannabis industry in Washington state. However, its model could very well serve for cannabis nonprofits and trade organizations around the U.S. who, as cannabis normalization becomes a more mainstream reality, may soon find themselves struggling with similar situations.
Eventually, Kaminsky said, “We can say ‘these are the systems that we set up, these are the things that we have in place,’ so that when you’re at that point we can just hand it over to you, and you can take it and modify it to your situation.”
The current Board for The Cannabis Alliance is made up of interim volunteers who are “trying to help form the basis for this organization,” she said. The interim leadership will serve “until we get our legs under us and get the organization going down the right path.” General elections are being planned for all leadership positions within The Cannabis Alliance in the coming year.
“We really want to make this a democratic process,” Kaminsky said.
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