After weeks of debate in the South Dakota legislature, right now it looks like Initiated Measure 26 will move forward as approved by voters last November. As the state works to create the framework for medical marijuana, a new trade association is hoping to lend a voice for the new industry.
“It will create a lot of businesses in the state; it will create a lot of new opportunities for existing businesses in the state. We just wanted to make sure there is an industry voice to work with the state as they work on implementation,” Ned Horsted, the Executive Director of the Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota said.
The Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota is a trade association that’s already working to protect the business interests of this new industry.
“We hired a lobbyist to make sure IM 26 was defended,” Horsted said. “Moving forward we’ll be working with the state hopefully to make sure that as rule promulgation moves forward it is done in a way that is conducive to business and ultimately will make this a success for South Dakota.”
“Every other industry has a trade association including alcohol and tobacco, and so we serve as that trade association that lobbies on behalf of the licensed entities to ensure that we have fair rules and regulations and laws that are conducive to their business models,” Robin Schneider, the Executive Director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association said.
Schneider said Michigan’s trade association began in 2018 after recreational marijuana was passed in the state.
“We have a very well licensed and regulated and successful licensed cannabis program here in the state of Michigan,” Schnieder said. “We are projected to be about a $300 billion a year industry in the state.”
Schneider says the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association continues to lobby lawmakers for regulations specific to their industry needs.
“We spend a lot of time making suggestions to rules and changes and tweaks that might need to be made,” Schneider said.
Schneider says those changes are often very specific and are based on what their industry members are experiencing. Things like how the state’s tracking system is working or not working so well or wording to make sure their packaging is safe and child-resistant–all efforts designed to make sure their state has ‘industry best practices’ in place.
“Regulation works,” Schneider said. “When a product such as alcohol, tobacco or cannabis is well regulated, it reduces the chance that our youth are going to get it.”
The Michigan Cannabis Industry Association also serves as a business resource for its more than 300 members.
“We’re probably the largest trade association in the Midwest,” Schneider said. “I spend a lot of time helping all of our members navigate all of their business needs including insurance policies, access to banking through a number of credit unions in our state that are federally compliant, making sure they have access to security companies, anything they need for their business.”
After the rules are implemented in South Dakota and the cannabis industry gets started in the state, the Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota hopes to be an information hub for anyone looking to get involved.
“Even before election day, we got a lot of questions and we continue to get questions every day, how do I get into the industry? I want to do a grow operation, or I want to do a dispensary, so there’s a lot of people that just have a lot of questions about how to do this, so I think the industry association will be there to help with a lot of the questions that these new businesses will have,” Horsted said.
Anyone interested in getting into the medical or recreational marijuana industry can join the Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota.