Based in Eugene, Oregon, the Emerald Trade Alliance is a good example of what may be in store for the California cannabis industry now that voters in the Golden State have passed Proposition 64. Although currently serving mostly the Central Oregon region, this progressive and unique group offers membership to an eclectic group of canna-preneurs.
The group counts among its members professionals who are engaged in cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution, retail sales, and quality control. This differentiates it from similar trade groups that focus on a particular segment of the market, such as cultivators or manufacturers. Examples include the California Grower’s Association and the Association of Cannabis Breeders and Growers in Seattle.
Members of the Emerald Trade Alliance include OG Analytical — one of Oregon’s leading testing labs, Top Shelf Concentrates — an extract producer based in Eugene, Oregon, and Herban Tribe — a manufacturer of edibles, concentrates, and clones (also located in Eugene).
The organization charges members a monthly fee of $50 and works “…with representatives from all sectors to identify common goals and seek consensus on issues that affect the industry as a whole.” Members must currently own a cannabis or hemp business or be an employee of such a company and are expected to “work constructively” within the group.
The goals of the Emerald Trade Alliance include advocacy, protection of Oregon-based cannabis businesses, and the establishment of industry standards (such as common trade practices and safety protocols). Another aim of the group is regional economic stimulation and the creation of jobs.
Trade associations of this type are especially beneficial to members during times of disruption and uncertainty. The emergence of cannabis regulations in West Coast states like Washington, Oregon, and California has made the value of membership in such groups significantly greater.
The rollout of complex and conditional laws and regulations has made navigating the emerging legal market for cannabis confusing, cumbersome, and sometimes cost prohibitive. When populated by participative, experienced members, trade associations can be a powerful tool for entrepreneurs and serious professionals. It goes beyond mere networking to expose members to some of the most innovative, creative, and resilient companies in America.
“This is a great example of a group comprised of a wide range of professionals within the cannabis industry, not just growers,” said Cara Cordoni, a cannabis industry business consultant based in Humboldt County. “California needs groups like the Emerald Trade Alliance to help its members navigate an extremely dynamic regulatory landscape that is confusing even many professionals,” she added.
Passage of Proposition 64 and a plethora of new regulations at the state level equals a business environment in California that is both frenetic in its pace of disruption and perplexing for even the most seasoned attorneys, accountants, and business consultants.
“With 40 million citizens and the [sixth] largest economy in the world, California is poised to create a robust and globally influential cannabis market,” said Cordoni. “But without the clarity that can, theoretically, be provided by trade groups like Emerald Trade Alliance, cannabis businesses in the Emerald Triangle will remain confused and may flounder due to making poor strategic decisions during their critical startup phase.”
Written by Gooey Rabinski