Businesses are living organisms that follow a natural lifecycle. From conception as an idea in the mind of the entrepreneur, through each phase of development, the rough edges of each business are honed, shaped and sharpened by market realities. We learn and evolve as we grow: adding employees, encountering and overcoming competitive challenges, exploring opportunities, and servicing our customers. The marketplace is unambiguous about what it wants — voting with money and mindshare – and in that way influences the trajectory of every business participant.
The idea for the creation of the Marijuana Business Association came back in early 2012, before recreational marijuana was legal in either Washington or Colorado. We saw that there was a tremendous support for creating a legitimate cannabis industry among would-be licensees and consumers, but practically no institutional support or infrastructure to help them. We built our core services in direct response to the common needs and concerns voiced from the literally hundreds of activists, dispensaries, growers, topical-makers, and entrepreneurs we spoke with as we were refining our business plan.
Getting and staying informed is one of the biggest challenges for our business members — licensed growers, processors and retailers, and the many ancillary business professionals who support them. State regulations are dynamic, and ever-changing. Most first generation cannabis businesses are ill-informed, and under resourced. They have an ongoing need for reliable information about getting licensed and staying compliant, and the technical challenges of their new profession as a grower, or processor or retailer.
The Marijuana Business Association was created to provide participants in the newly legal cannabis industry with three core values: Reliable Business Intelligence, Professional Community and Commercial Opportunity. Three years ago, MJBA began publishing MJHeadlineNews on Facebook as a social forum for aggregating the day’s most important cannabis news from both the mainstream media and the pot press. The site immediately generated tremendous response, and attracting a national audience. Today the MJHeadlineNews page boasts 160,000 Likes with robust community engagement.
Increasingly we’ve seen the mission of our MJNewsNetwork.com as not only disseminating the news from other sources, but also the creation of our own original content. We’ve now published hundreds of original videos from MJBA events and other industry happenings on our Marijuana Channel One on YouTube. And are in the process of building out our suite of web sites, professional educational programming and publications to deliver even more value.
MJBA Meetups have become a reliable monthly occasion where cannabis professionals can share news, and engage in professional networking in an ideal environment for establishing one’s professional and personal brands. We’ve grown, from monthly meetings in Seattle, to supporting regular MJBA meetups in Spokane, Bellingham, Tacoma, Portland, Denver and New York. Thousands of industry professionals have attended our job fairs, vendor fairs and professional education seminars, and tens of thousands more have watched the 300 original videos we’ve captured from MJBA and other cannabis industry trade events.
As the needs of the marketplace have evolved over the past three years, MJBA has evolved our offerings to map to the changing needs of our membership – partnering with leading business intelligence firm TetraTrak/Front Runner to host Professional Education Seminars for producers, processors and retailers, and hosting business boot camps with NWMJ Law that provide members with access to leading attorneys, CPAs and other business experts.
Two years ago, we launched the MJBA Women’s Alliance to provide a forum for cannabis businesswomen to build their personal and professional lives. More than 100 women-owned or operated cannabis businesses have joined in the MJBA Women’s Alliance, participating in our many a Seminars, VIP Speaker Luncheons and Charitable Events. This Spring we decided that the Women’s Alliance had achieved enough scale and momentum to sustain it, and so we have spun it off as a separate new entity: The Cannabis Women’s Alliance — a social purpose corporation with Morgan acting as CEO and Roxanne Taylor as COO.
It does my heart proud to see this project take flight on its own. As a parent of a recent High School graduate, I feel the same familiar mix of pride at achieving the significant milestone, and sadness that this precious first chapter of our organizational is ending.
With California, Nevada, Arizona and a dozen or so more States voting for marijuana legalization in November, 2016 represents an inflection point for the legal cannabis industry. Our grand experiment has met with enthusiastic response from eager consumers, and a begrudging realization among politicians that end of prohibition is inevitable so they might as well have a part in crafting what comes next. I remain excited about what comes next for the industry and the MJBA.
Stay tuned to this space…