Cannabis Industry Collaboration and Innovation: A Recap of NCIA’s Stakeholder Summits

By: Brooke Gilbert, Chief Strategy Officer at the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)

In recent months, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) has embarked on a transformative journey, bringing together industry leaders, regulators, policymakers, and advocates for a series of Stakeholder Summits across the United States. From the sun-drenched streets of California to the bustling cities of Maryland and the picturesque landscapes of Colorado, these events have served as a nexus for collaboration, innovation, and progress within the cannabis industry. As we reflect on the success of this inaugural Stakeholder Summit series, let’s delve deeper into the highlights and impact of these conversations which are helping to shape the future of cannabis policy nationwide.

The Stakeholder Summit series was conceived with a singular vision: to create a platform where industry stakeholders could converge to address pressing issues, share insights, and drive positive change. With a focus on education and advocacy, these summits aimed to tackle the most significant challenges facing the cannabis industry while fostering meaningful connections and partnerships.

Insights and Impact: Highlights from the Summits

California Stakeholder Summit: Influencing Regulatory Policies
In Sacramento, the California Stakeholder Summit 2024 was a testament to the power of collaboration and dialogue in shaping regulatory policies. Notable speakers, including Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Nicole Elliott, California’s Director of the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), offered insights into the impending rescheduling of cannabis and the intricate relationship between state and federal regulations. Panel discussions, such as the one on AB 2223 featuring Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), provided a platform for industry operators to voice their concerns and shape regulatory policies. The summit served as a vital catalyst for driving progress in California’s cannabis industry.

Missouri Stakeholder Summit: Addressing Legislative Challenges
In St. Louis, the Missouri Stakeholder Summit convened industry leaders to address proposed legislation that could significantly impact the availability of Delta-8 THC products in the state. Amy Moore, director of the Division of Cannabis Regulation at Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, highlighted the potential implications of the Intoxicating Cannabinoid Control Act on the market. The summit underscored the need for comprehensive regulations that balance consumer safety with industry growth. While discussions sparked pushback from both sides, stakeholders remain committed to finding solutions that support a thriving cannabis market in Missouri.

Maryland Stakeholder Summit: Advancing Equity and Regulation
In Baltimore, the Maryland Stakeholder Summit convened industry operators, leading regulators, and advocates to address pressing issues within the state’s cannabis landscape. Notable speakers, including Chris Jackson of ForesTree (and current Chair of NCIA’s Board of Directors), Will Tilburg of Maryland Cannabis Administration, Tracey Lancaster Miller of Maryland Dispensary Association, and Joy Strand of Maryland Wholesale Cannabis Trade Association, provided insights into key topics relevant to Maryland’s emerging adult-use cannabis industry. Discussions revolved around equity, regulatory challenges, and the path to federal regulation. Attendees actively engaged in shaping the conversation, emphasizing the need for equitable policies and inclusive regulatory frameworks. As Maryland navigates the rollout of an adult-use program, the summit produced meaningful dialogue and called for collective action towards a more equitable and sustainable industry across the state.

Colorado Stakeholder Summit: Legislating Cannabis – Yesterday’s Framework, Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Opportunities
In Denver, the Colorado Stakeholder Summit provided a platform for industry leaders to discuss innovations and challenges within the state’s long-standing but beleaguered cannabis marketplace. Panel discussions explored topics ranging from federal regulation pathways, legislative challenges in the Colorado market, and the future of cannabis hospitality in the state Expert panels then delved into federal regulation, and the future of cannabis hospitality. Governor Jared Polis provided a closing keynote address, where he emphasized the importance of incremental steps towards federal legalization. With a focus on rescheduling and cannabis banking reform, Governor Polis outlined these initiatives as crucial “dominoes” on the path to broader legalization. He also celebrated Colorado’s leadership in the cannabis movement while acknowledging the ongoing need for regulatory improvements, specifically by ensuring equity in Colorado’s cannabis industry. As the state reflects on a decade of legal cannabis sales, the summit highlighted the economic benefits and regulatory successes of Colorado’s cannabis landscape while also addressing current challenges in the Centennial State.

The Stakeholder Summit series has already made a significant impact on our collective interests of continued progress across the cannabis industry, fostering collaboration, driving innovation, and advancing regulatory reform efforts. Through meaningful dialogue and engagement, stakeholders have been able to identify common challenges, explore potential solutions, and forge new partnerships. Tangible outcomes, such as policy recommendations and advocacy initiatives, have emerged from the summits, demonstrating the power of collective action within the industry. As we look ahead to future events and initiatives, we remain committed to advancing the interests of our members and the industry as a whole. Stay tuned as we continue these conversations.