The Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) recently convened the first-ever External Stakeholders Meeting in Seattle, Washington. For two days, regulators and stakeholders from over forty states assembled to discuss cannabis legalization, the challenges state-level legalization brings, and exchange ideas in a way that the cannabis industry hasn’t seen before. The event provided an opportunity for attendees to be in person, exchange ideas, network with industry and government agencies, and leave with a renewed invigoration to enhance an already expanding industry.
The meeting’s sessions touched upon matters ranging from standards in cannabis regulation, interstate commerce, achieving social and economic equity, and following through on legalization’s promise to address social justice, to preventing youth access, promoting consumer safety and public health, and how data and technology help shape future policy. All these topics provided a space to share ideas and express differences of opinions in a way that was productive and created strong takeaways for the participants.
As someone who has now participated in adult-use legalization from the government and industry perspectives, I felt especially fortunate to have been in the room with these distinguished people. Being given an opportunity to discuss experiences I had when I was a commissioner for the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, while at the same time hearing from current regulators, staff, and industry experts about what they are seeing was an opportunity I would have appreciated five years ago when I was a regulator. The free-flowing exchange of education and ideas throughout the two days will most certainly give the cannabis community better tools as markets come online and mature.
CANNRA’s commitment to creating a dialogue with people from all sides could be a game-changer in how regulatory bodies approach rulemaking as markets mature. I’m looking forward to future meetings.