Last month, many of you were able to attend the Ethical Cannabis Alliance’s Standard Setting Kickoff event. After a weather delay in February, we were brimming with excitement to start the conversation around the future of ethically sourced cannabis. ECA has ambitious goals, and it will take a village to accomplish them, so we are proud to announce the support of Dr. Bronner’s Soap Company as we continue to curate these standards! We also want to give a huge THANK YOU to all of our event volunteers and sponsors, especially Emma Chasen for moderating, and the team of volunteers for executing. As a nonprofit organization, ECA couldn’t have put on this event without the help of our community. If you were unable to attend, follow the link below to check out the full presentation, and get a sneak peak of a few big announcements we have coming up.
In order to address the current state of the industry, and the need for robust labor and environmental standards, ECA Executive Director Ashley Preece was joined by two outstanding guest presenters. First we heard from Laura Day Rivero, who has extensive experience implementing sustainable practices in the cannabis industry, most recently as Operations Director at Yerba Buena, one of the first OLCC licensed cannabis cultivators in Oregon. Yerba Buena is a leader in the Oregon cannabis industry in striving to not only produce sustainably grown cannabis, but also provide living wages, offer affordable health care coverage, and make employee education a priority. These are some of the practices that ECA believes embody the ethos of fair trade, and ethically produced cannabis not only creates happy employees, it also feels good to the consumer.
Next we heard from Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Assistant Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Political Economy Program at Lewis & Clark College, as well as a Research Associate at the Center for Fair and Alternative Trade (CFAT) at Colorado State University. Dr. Bennett holds a PhD in Political Science from Brown University and a MALD in political economy and development. Recently, Dr. Bennett has been studying the demand for ethically sourced cannabis products in Oregon at the dispensary/retail level. This study is also tracking the how informed the dispensary employee, or “budtender” providing them are on the topic of ethically produced cannabis. Bennett’s research has shown that the cannabis industry has a long way to go, however we see no reason why a growing trend of appreciation for ethically sourced products will not carry over to the cannabis industry. Education on what sustainable, fair trade practices look like is crucial at every level of this burgeoning industry, especially at the level of consumer interaction. Consumers, as well as budtenders, need to know what asking for ethically sourced product means, and commit to supporting companies that make sustainability and fair-trade a priority in their business model.
At Ethical Cannabis Alliance, we believe now is the time to discard the paradigm of profits over people. ECA’s mission is to bring diverse groups together to empower and protect workers, communities, and the environment by advocating and educating on behalf of sustainable cannabis and hemp production practices. We strongly believe in the need for 3rd party auditing of certified businesses in order to remove any conflicts of interest, as well as the creation of an educational platform which will highlight the benefits, and need for these robust standards. We are in the process of securing the funding required to meet these goals, as well as vetting potential collaborations. The momentum created by our Standard Setting Kickoff event has been so inspiring, and we’re going to carry this enthusiasm into our upcoming monthly standard setting events. We hope you’ll take the time to view these presentations on our YouTube channel, as well as following our Facebook and Instagram accounts to get involved, and stay informed.
ECA looks to the community to help bring to market transparent and robust, yet accessible standards for the cannabis industry. If you would like to get involved, volunteer your services, or provide funding, please contact Ashley@ethical-cannabis.org.