Regulators from 19 states have joined together in forming the Cannabis Regulators Association (“CANNRA”). The goal of CANNRA is to share institutional knowledge and regulatory best practices in order to assist federal, state, and local jurisdictions that have approved or are considering the legalization of cannabis. CANNRA is not an advocacy group, nor does it take a position either for or against cannabis legalization, but instead is designed as an informational clearinghouse to help regulators make informed decisions in creating, developing, and/or expanding cannabis marketplaces.
The interesting byproduct of federal prohibition is that each jurisdiction has engaged in their own effort and design of legalization, allowing states to be their own laboratories of democracy. That being said, some jurisdictions are more evolved than others, with older jurisdictions providing a wealth of experience and newer jurisdictions offering a diversity of fresh ideas. CANNRA merely places a form to what was previously the practice of regulators informally discussing and debating policy determinations and best practices. Indeed, its noteworthy that in October of 2019 Governor Cuomo of New York hosted a summit with the Governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut to incorporate similar regional goals of regulatory best practices. Given that foresight, perhaps its not surprising that Norman Birenbaum, New York’s Direct of Cannabis Programs, has been appointed the first President of CANNRA.
CANNRA’s founding members include Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington. CANNRA also envisions offering membership to county and municipal regulators as well. Membership will provide regulators a national registry of members, resources for cannabis policy development and staff training, as well as access to and participation in the development of model standards and best practices for cannabis regulation.