In an industry rife with “extreme uncertainty” at pretty much every level, the best thing business leaders can do is ‘Be Ready.’
This is both the slogan and the guiding principle of the newly launched National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB). Founded by Joshua Laterman – who spent 20 years working in business management and financial/regulatory law – the group bills itself as the “premier cannabis industry self-regulatory organization in the United States.”
According to its website, the organization is “dedicated to helping its members achieve success in an ever-changing regulatory landscape by promoting compliance, transparency, record-keeping and responsible business practices.”
So – what exactly should prospective cannabis entrepreneurs be ‘readying’ themselves for? If you ask NACB chief legal officer Douglas Fischer, the answer is necessarily multi-faceted.
“This industry has highly fragmented regulations and there’s uncertainty about what’s next [at multiple levels],” said Fischer.
“What we’re hoping to do is reduce some of that uncertainty, to provide a set of standards... that helps our members ‘be ready’ for the future, for the growth of the industry, for the challenges that are going to come at the state and federal level.”
While the NACB’s ultimate goal is to eventually help shape federal cannabis regulation with its stringent set of standards – informed by countless case studies and conversations with government officials – there are of course “many intermediate steps along the way that we want people to be ready for, as well.”
Considering the Trump administration’s well-documented hostility toward cannabis, Fischer doesn’t see full federal legalization of the drug coming anytime soon. That doesn’t mean the industry shouldn’t be “holding itself to really high standards”, he said. Quite the opposite, in fact.
While Fischer considers it “unlikely” that the federal government would suddenly call for the prosecution of cannabis businesses, such a move isn’t completely out of the question. That said, “the more compliant and responsible you are as a member of the industry, the better your chances are of being able to survive.”
“Given limited resources, it’s not going to be the businesses that have gone out of their way to go above and beyond what’s required by law that are going to be targets of prosecution if there is sudden prosecution,” he said.
The organization’s guidelines – which will be officially adopted upon reaching a “critical mass of membership, as it has to be driven by members” – will cover everything from best financial practices to pesticide use. NACB members in good standing will receive the organization’s seal of approval, thus demonstrating to lawmakers and the public that they are “responsible” contributors to the growing industry.
“We think the industry is on the verge of having a lot more regulation from any number of levels. To get out in front of that is really key,” said Fischer. “By enhancing the standards of the industry, we can really pave the way for the kind of growth that’s going to benefit both the industry and the public in terms of job creation, increased tax revenue and safety.
“By taking responsibility as an industry, you can really shape what the future of regulation looks like. We’ve been getting an incredible response from businesses who want to be a part of that.”