Few people are doing more for the functionality of California’s adult-use cannabis industry than the members of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA). Business-minded people within the cannabis industry are tired of being treated like common criminals. That’s why the organization is spending time in the state Capitol and abroad, to ensure that the voices of cannabis industry insiders are heard while the intricacies of adult-use regulations are hammered out.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) in 2015, which regulates medical cannabis in California. Proposition 64 passed last November, but regulation details need to be finalized quickly before adult-use sales begin in January 2018.
“The purpose of the CCIA is to organize the industry to perform in a united [manner], to represent the cannabis sector in the capital as well provide a resource to bring legitimacy to the industry.”
The CCIA is a branch of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and is on the frontline of the effort to get the regulations up and running. The CCIA now represents the voice of over 1,300 member-businesses nationwide in the cannabis industry. Ben Bradley is Operations Director for the California Cannabis Industry Association, which he helped found in 2013. “The purpose of the CCIA is to organize the industry to perform in a united [manner], to represent the cannabis sector in the capital as well provide a resource to bring legitimacy to the industry,” Ben Bradley told CULTURE.
The association has been actively lobbying on a number of state bills. “Since the formation of the CCIA, we’ve been part of helping multiple regulations including in 2015—A.B. 266, MCRSA, which laid the framework for the medical regulations of cannabis,” Bradley added. “Following that, we established, or worked with the team to campaign for Proposition 64 establishing the regulations for adult-use.” This year, the CCIA will be working the governor’s office and with the regulatory agencies to help develop the framework that businesses will be operating under in 2018.
Before cannabis, Bradley served as a combat medic and Sergeant in the United States Army. There he picked up useful habits. “My military experience gave me a keen sense for structure and establishing S.O.P.’s an order,” Bradley said. “As the cannabis industry was first beginning, there was not that much structure behind it. And it was very free-flowing and known as the ‘Wild West.’ The trade association in itself is about working together with multiple businesses. In the military, a key aspect is teamwork—working together to build a greater vision. That is definitely the correlation I’ve seen merge with the two.” Cannabis is an unlikely centerpiece in the Bradley family. Ben’s brother Nate Bradley is Executive Director and Policy Advocate for the CCIA and is a former police officer.
The association has organized the California Cannabis Business Conference, which will be taking place in Anaheim on September 21-22, 2017. The keynote speaker will be Lori Ajax, the recently appointed Chief of the Bureau of Cannabis Control in California, or widely referred to as the new “Cannabis Czar.”
Cannabis Czar Lori Ajax will bring her 20-plus years of experience in the alcohol industry to the cannabis industry. Bradley shared how many are anticipating that Ajax will share new developments in her keynote speech in September. “What I want to see and hear [in Anaheim] is how do we best prepare our industry to operate in a new regulated market,” Bradley explained. “We’ll have Lori Ajax there, and she’ll be painting a picture to best prepare what the first year of regulations looks like—how to operate in that way strategically and efficiently.” Ajax is currently trying to educate cannabis businesses on regulatory processes by laying out rules that are reasonably achievable. This is because Ajax is working to prevent businesses from choosing to operate in the black market.
Compromise between the various needs of big and small businesses is part of the challenges faced by cannabis businesses.
Many cannabis industry insiders want to know when the regulations will be finished. Before that can happen, Bradley said, the rules and regulations of the supply chain must be defined. “The biggest challenge is getting the regulations in place and out to the industry,” Bradley admitted. “We’re projected to have those regulations by October.” Bradley knows that there’s millions of dollars to be made from taxing recreational cannabis in California. Find out more information at the California Cannabis Business Conference in late September.