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  • November 23, 2020 10:25 AM | Anonymous

    We were able to connect with the Sales Director of Astro Cannabis,  Eric Johnson, for a quick Q&A on what Astro is all about.

    How many years have you been in the cannabis industry?

    I am in my first year!

    What about your business would you want other members to know?

    We are a mom and pop Tier 1 Producer/processor. Our garden is maintained by the owner Zach. I [Eric] own Biz Dev, Sales, and purchasing. We found our way into the market by having our house grown flower run as a PHO batter. It has been marketed as "moonmatter" and sold to 70+ stores so far. The end product has a look similar to rosin and has developed a nice following!

    What was your driver for joining the Craft Cannabis Coalition? 

    I wanted to get involved in the bigger picture of the 502 industry and work on networking.

    What makes you optimistic about the future of the cannabis industry?

    I think there is a huge opportunity for those who wish to make the most of it. The stigmas surrounding the plant continue to crumble as more and more states jump on board. Before we know it, we will be shipping out of state! I think that will be a huge opportunity for larger companies as well as the smaller, premium producers.

    Any other fun facts you would like us to know?

    I have a shih-tzu named Tyrion. I enjoy lifting weights and eating well. Last but not least, I love weed and people!

  • November 15, 2020 7:07 PM | Anonymous

    CCC has been working hard on your behalf to influence legislation. Executive Director Joanna Monroe, Board Chair Eric Gaston, and lobbyist T.K. Bentler have led productive conversations over the past few weeks with legislators who influence the cannabis industry – including committee members on both sides of the aisle who regulate the industry.

    Monroe says she has left these meetings feeling excited and hopeful.

    “My takeaway is how committed and bright our legislators are. I’m inspired by the spark of these folks really trying to do the right thing. Even though we might have disagreements on some issues, the intentions are so strong and so positive for the people of Washington state.”

    The meetings centered around three key issues: preserving stability for our young industry, protecting against forced unionization, and promoting social equity.

    Preserving Stability
    It’s sometimes easy to forget that recreational cannabis is still new in Washington state. Although we were a pioneer of legal recreational sales, we still battle some initial worries about the effects of regulation on our industry. In meetings with legislators, CCC reminds them of the importance of stability. We encourage legislators to be mindful that any disruption to growth would negatively impact our industry and the state as a whole because of the tax revenue the cannabis industry provides to the state.

    Protecting Against Forced Unionization
    Just as we remind legislators that we are a young industry, we also remind them that we are small. Many of our members are “mom and pop” businesses. We support the right of our employees to unionize while opposing legislation to force unionization of the cannabis industry. Forced unionization through legislation is not only unprecedented and unfair, it threatens the livelihood of our businesses and the economic security of our employees.

    “I’m thrilled by the respect legislators have shown for our industry. When I go to these meetings, I can honestly tell them that the way we have managed ourselves from a compliance and responsibility perspective is really impressive. Our legislators are truly excited about the cannabis industry,” said Monroe.

    Promoting Social Equity
    CCC is passionate about social equity and finding ways to ensure diverse representation in the industry, while maintaining the stability built over the last eight years. We impress upon legislators the necessity of paying attention to those who are marginalized within our industry. Monroe is particularly adamant about this issue.

    “CCC wants to be part of the conversation. And while we recognize that many us don’t have the lived experiences of systematic racism, we all need to be listening, and we all need to be fighting for what’s right.”

    Making Our Voices Heard
    A recent Cannabis Policy Summit organized by the Washington Cannabusiness Association showed our voices are being heard.

    “It was evident the legislators we’ve met with heard our message and were carrying our voices forward, and they were taking action steps to continue to protect our industry.”

    Join CCC and we'll work hard for you, too. 

  • November 06, 2020 9:31 AM | Anonymous

    We discovered last week that when you mix a group of cannabis industry folks with a slate of LCB folks you end up with a plethora of questions asked and answered.

    Some of the top leaders of the LCB participated in a CCC-sponsored conversation Oct. 28 to share updates about legislative and regulatory activities and answer questions from CCC members and others. participants in all cannabis sectors participated in the 1.5-hour meeting.

    “As the CCC fights to protect craft cannabis in Washington, we need to have open channels of communication with the LCB to ensure our members’ voices are heard and represented in legislative and regulatory actions,” said CCC Executive Director Joanna Monroe. “I am pleased the LCB is willing to dialogue with us. They offered to meet with members quarterly – and we fully intend to take them up on that offer.”

    LCB representatives, including Rick Garza, Kathy Hoffman, Justin Nordhorn and Chris Thompson, fielded several questions from members, including these:

    • If the state goes into another shutdown because of COVID, is there a possibility it will include cannabis businesses? There are no guarantees, but it does not seem likely.
    • How can I quickly get permission to change the floor plan of my business for social distancing? COVID response is the state’s number one priority, so the state wants to work with members to to make this happen very quickly.
    • If there’s another shutdown, I’m concerned about security in a cash-only business. What protections can the state provide? Recommendations included sidewalk-only access for retailers and selling gift cards to reduce the number of cash transactions.

    CCC thanks all members who participated in the conversation and looks forward to facilitating future discussions.

    Know someone in the cannabis industry who may be interested in these types of events? Invite them to join CCC!

  • September 02, 2020 12:05 PM | Anonymous

    CCC’s mission to ensure common-sense regulation garnered an article in Marijuana Venture last month. The article, “A Force for Stability” explains some of the challenges we face in this industry and features CCC’s new executive director, Joanna Monroe. 

    Several members – Daniela Bernhard, , Eric Gaston and TJ Werth – helped paint the picture of the uphill battle we’ve faced since the beginning, including forced unionization, inspectors with too much control, and revision of oversight and processes set up in the industry’s infancy.

    Please read and share the article with others who could benefit from a deeper understanding of CCC’s mission:

    Marijuana Ventures is offering free subscriptions to up to 500 CCC members and affiliates. Use the code MJVTrade2020 to subscribe.

  • August 28, 2020 1:57 PM | Anonymous

    Thank you to the members who were able to attend our first political fundraiser last week. We had the opportunity to connect with Gov. Jay Inslee and raised $13,000 for his campaign – both of which I consider an absolute success.

    Hosting this event enabled us to share industry insight directly with the governor, who listened and expressed support for many of the issues we raised.

    “Our Washington state cannabis industry has set the standard nationally. This industry is critical to our state, generating hundreds of millions in tax revenues a year that fund critical programs across Washington. As we continue forward, I am committed to creating an equitable, fair, and robust cannabis industry here in Washington state,” Jay said.

    It is important for us to continue establishing relationships with key policymakers to ensure our perspective is heard and understood. When we advocate for issues that affect our industry, we are recognized as credible experts. 

    Molly Honig, who owns Higher Leaf, attended the event and had great things to say:

    “Governor Inslee is a great advocate for the cannabis industry. The cannabis legalization experiment in Washington State has been a huge success. The industry has raised over a billion of dollars in tax revenue for schools and other state services, and has given people safe access to cannabis products, which has improved many peoples' quality of life. The things the critics were concerned about with legalization, have not come to pass. Our state system has also been able to avoid many of the pitfalls other states have faced. Governor Inslee's support has been a huge factor in the success of the cannabis industry and I am confident that with his continued leadership, the industry will continue to thrive,” Molly said.

    Our next CCC event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 – it’s our annual meeting and legislative outlook. I strongly encourage our members to attend and participate. The discussion will shape our priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and your input is important. Register here.

    - Joanna

  • August 10, 2020 10:50 AM | Joanna Monroe (Administrator)

    Craft Cannabis Coalition Legislative Priorities 

    Protect Against Forced Unionization

    The Craft Cannabis Coalition (CCC) strongly supports employment practices that provide for living wages and benefits and support safe and respectful workplaces.  Last session, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) introduced SB6393, designed to force unionization of the Washington State cannabis industry, by inserting Labor into the licensing approval process. We actively oppose any legislation that threatens the viability of our businesses and puts at risk the economic security of our employees. We reject the coercive tactic of tying a third-party regulatory points system to the renewal of our hard-won licenses.

    Promote Social Equity

    CCC strongly supports meaningful industry representation from minority communities disproportionately harmed by prohibition and the War on Drugs and believe that promoting diversity and reducing harm should be a priority within the Washington State cannabis industry. We feel these efforts must be substantive and avoid harming current licensees, who face significant financial challenges. To us, this means no increase in license counts or canopy square footage. We believe social equity efforts are best served by focusing on community empowerment, grants, and technical support. We would like to leverage our industry experience and regulatory insight to help support the long-term efficacy and success of social equity endeavors.

    Prevent Vertical Integration, Direct Sales, Delivery

    We are adamantly opposed to direct sales or delivery services. We remain opposed to vertical integration of producer/processors and retail operations.  Vertical integration initiates consolidation of a few dominant entities at the expense of many smaller businesses; this does not align with the craft nature of Washington State cannabis and the mission of our Coalition.

    Promote Standard Commercial Business Practices

    We generally support the allowance of regular business practices for 502 businesses, including, but not limited to, contracts, price differentiation, and co-branding; practices currently allowed in alcohol but prohibited in cannabis.

    “Use It or Lose It” Licensing

    In the interest of preserving the value of licenses and promoting stability in an industry that continues to struggle with a surplus of licenses, we propose that licenses being held speculatively with no active contributions to our industry, be required to operationalize or be forfeited. Our goal is to put the decision to increase 502 licenses in the hands of legislators (under the legislative process), rather than the LCB. Any 502 licenses issued, other than those required to address population growth, should come from the existing pool of licenses which have been forfeited or otherwise not activated.  In addition to no licensing of new canopy square footage, we support a requirement that licenses issued to address social equity are pulled from the existing pool of unused licenses, rather than the creation of new licenses. Lastly, we believe that if a licensee fails to meet a minimum number of sales in a given time period, their license should be revoked.

    Out of State Ownership

    Fundamentally, the CCC is not opposed to out of state ownership. However, we would push for a set of guardrails around this issue that would ensure no new licenses were created, no new canopy was created, and vertical integration is still disallowed.

  • July 15, 2020 8:06 AM | Joanna Monroe (Administrator)

    The Craft Cannabis Coalition, a community of industry licensed producers, processors, and retailers that work together to promote and protect the unique craft nature of legal cannabis in Washington state, has hired Joanna Monroe as its executive director. Monroe will lead the organization’s advocacy for common sense policy to safeguard the industry against changes that may threaten the viability of the cannabis market in Washington State.

    “Since the passage of I-502 in 2012, Washington cannabis businesses have struggled to persevere because, unlike other industries, they face unique but enormous obstacles to success. By and large our regulations have fostered an environment that has discouraged consolidation and dominance by just a few large companies,” Monroe said.  “As executive director of the Craft Cannabis Coalition, my number one goal is to maintain an environment where many small producers and processors can thrive, by educating stakeholders about the positive impact we make and the need to pass laws to strengthen, not damage our industry.”

    Monroe, a licensed attorney, previously served as an executive at True Blue – an international temporary staffing agency – where she ran the company’s government relations function for 20 years. For the last year, Monroe served as an executive with Evergreen Market, a five-store cannabis retailer, and is an investor in Viridian Staffing which provides talent exclusively to the cannabis industry.

    Monroe became involved in the industry after learning about the many challenges cannabis businesses face.

    “Throughout my career, I have seen policymakers push legislation that, although well intended, results in unintended consequences that harm the very industry and people they are seeking to protect,” she said.

    In 2019, the cannabis industry contributed over $400 million in tax revenue and employed thousands of people in Washington.  

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