The National Cannabis Industry Association – Paving a Path for the Marijuana Market

Rachelle Gordon

July 14th, 2017


Advocacy. Education. Community. All three things are vital to advance cannabis legalization efforts and thus, the future of the emerging legal market. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is striving to bring these key elements to marijuana businesses and organizations across the country. As mentioned on their website, “This is the only trade association advancing interests of the legitimate and responsible cannabis industry.”

“NCIA is the voice of the cannabis industry, at the federal level,” explains Bethany Moore, Communications and Projects Manager for NCIA. “We have three full-time government relations staff in D.C. working year-round on behalf of the business owners. We are focusing on opening up access to banking, reforming 280E of the tax code, and discussing de-scheduling cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. This year in particular, with the new administration, we’re making sure the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which provides protections for the medical marijuana programs that are state compliant, maintains and is continued to be included in the yearly federal spending budgets.”

Fostering Growth

The organization has seen extreme growth since its founding by Aaron Smith (current Executive Director) in 2010. NCIA hosts several conferences every year, including the Seed to Sale Show in Denver, the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo, the California Cannabis Business Conference, and quarterly caucuses across the country. The events draw thousands of people from all over the United States and beyond.

“In the last three and a half years I’ve seen our staff grow from about five to fifteen staff members, and I’ve seen our organization be able to offer more and more benefits, and create more and more partnerships with really great companies,” says Moore. She adds that attendance at this year’s Cannabis Business Summit & Expo was double that of last year’s event.

NCIA Membership Benefits

Becoming a member of NCIA offers cannabis entrepreneurs a plethora of opportunities to connect, learn, and grow in this thriving industry. Bethany Moore explains:

“Key benefits of membership, in addition to being represented by our government relations team every day in Washington, D.C., includes access to valuable information such as market intelligence and federal policy updates. Members can attend our quarterly networking events free of charge, and receive discounts to our major conferences and trade shows. Additionally, we offer committees for our members to join, and a platform for them to share news and educational blogs on our website. Our three pillars are ‘Advocacy, Education, and Community’ and we strive to meet those needs for our members, adding new benefits year after year.

“If you’re interested in being in the cannabis space, or you’re already in the cannabis space, or you’re an ancillary business that supports the cannabis space, being a part of NCIA is one of the best ways to connect with the whole industry – the movers, the shakers, the thought leaders, the business owners themselves, the pioneers. And as a 501c6 non-profit, your membership dues are supporting advocacy at the federal level. It’s easy to sign up online at – just fill out your information, or you can call the office and somebody from our membership department will get you signed up.”

What Does the Future Hold for NCIA?

With the cannabis market projected to be a multi-billion dollar business within a few short years, it’s vital that the National Cannabis Industry Association and its members continue to work together for the common goal of nationwide legalization. While it may take baby-steps, Moore maintains that in this case, slow and steady may win the race.

“I’d like to see the dial move another notch or two at the federal level, so that we’re not constantly worried about the rug being taken out from under us and we can actually focus on growing our businesses without so much fear and without having to feel like we’re making conservative, short term decisions. Right now, it’s hard to say, ‘Okay here’s my twenty year plan,” when you’re not even sure what the legal status of your business will be in the next few years. I’d really like to see those fears allayed and just allow the cannabis industry to start expanding its true potential.”

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Rachelle Gordon

About Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer. She was the president of her college's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and worked in Amsterdam for a brief time. Find her online at

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