CCMA: Working to improve, protect and ‘humanize’ California’s legal cannabis industry

America’s legal cannabis sector sometimes appears to be dealing with an ever-evolving set of rules, regulations and industry challenges.

On the West Coast, for example, there’s a growing dispute brewing between legal marijuana industries and some union organizations. And there are concerns this dispute could end up hindering a business sector that’s looking to normalize and expand under extraordinary conditions.

The unionization controversy, as recently reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, is just one of the issues that lawmakers, lobbyists, special interest groups and cannabis businesses in California will eventually have to resolve as the state prepares for the scheduled launch of a taxation and regulatory system for recreational marijuana, beginning on January 1, 2018.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” Hillary Bricken, an attorney who specializes in cannabis law, recently told the Desert Sun newspaper. “With the number of licenses available, the number of agencies that have to be involved, they’re going to spend a ton of time on this.”

Of course, California cannabis companies have a huge stake in how these laws are established, and they are working quickly to make up lost ground when it comes to having a say in how their businesses will be licensed and regulated.

“Up until last year, cannabis manufacturers were probably the most underrepresented licensed type in the state capital,” says Kenny Morrison, president of the California Cannabis Manufacturers Association (CCMA).

The Sacramento-based group is made up of marijuana industry pioneers from all over the state, who have been part of the legal cannabis sector for the past decade.

According to its web site CCMA not only represents cannabis product manufacturers but also has worked to establish the “best practices for product safety” within the industry – instating  third-party testing, product label standardization and other programs, which in turn broke ground for the state’s current regulations.

Morrison is also co-founder of California’s Venice Cookie Company and Washington State’s Evergreen Herbal, which together make up VCC Brands. He says CCMA is working with different state bureaucracies and agencies; offering them both their expertise and feedback.

“I get the sense that Washington and California are doing their best to regulate this new industry in a responsible way, and in a way that’s not overly intrusive,” he tells Blunt Network. “

And a big part of what his association and these agencies are working on, he adds, is regulating perceptions of the legal cannabis industry.

“I think all these organizations and trade associations are being formed to humanize people involved in the industry,” he says.

Having the general public understand that there’s no “pernicious threat” from legalized cannabis is an ongoing challenge; as is helping consumers understand the sense of mission shared by many veteran growers and manufacturers.

“There’s a lot of idealism in the industry,” Morrison continues. “For people to have fought as long as we have, in the face of the dangerous drug war for as long as we have, this is bigger than money.”

“We come from a long line of activists and advocates. And anyone who started out in the cannabis industry, whether they were an activist or not, after spending some time inside the industry you most definitely become an activist by default.”

And while the “green rush” is attracting legions of people who appear more interested in cannabis as a money play, Morrison reminds newcomers to cannabis that there’s a lot more to the sector than its financial potential.

“There’s nothing wrong with making money,” he says, “but we’re an intention-based industry that believes the world’s a better place when the cannabis plant is not so misunderstood.”