We are in an era when government no longer wants to arrest cannabis users—it wants to protect them.

To do this correctly, four things must be achieved:

In an ideal world, all educational efforts about cannabis would by necessity start with consumers. Right now, however, growers and sellers of cannabis are well represented in the business-political process, so, too, are those charged with the enforcement of cannabis laws.

 Importantly, one group is not so well-represented, but if a first-of-its-kind policy conference held March 3 by the recently formed Cannabis Consumer Policy Council is any indication, that is about to change. 

The conference succeeded at what it set out to do: Give consumers of cannabis a long-overdue voice in decisions made almost exclusively by businesses, law enforcement, regulators, and tax authorities. 

It wasn’t lost on the more than 250 people attending that the conference was occurring at the same time the nation was becoming more alarmed by the spread of the coronavirus. In fact, it helped highlight the need to better inform the public about safe cannabis products.

There are, of course, other cannabis associations. I founded and worked for the largest one in the Golden State, but I started CCPC to have at least one association center its lobbying and educational efforts exclusively on the consumer, who time and again seemed a vital but oft-eclipsed voice amid the influence of growers, sellers, regulators, and taxers of cannabis. 

It’s vital that more be done to keep consumers out of harm’s way from illicit sellers, contaminated products, high taxes, and establish an educational outreach and governmental lobbying effort that helps coordinates activities putting the consumer first and foremost.

 It’s also vital that consumers of cannabis have their employment rights protected.

“To be discriminated against by your employer because of the type of medicine you use is both inhumane and wrong. Medical cannabis, as recommended by a doctor, should be given a similar ‘reasonable accommodation’ as all prescription drugs,” says Assemblyman Rob Bonta. 

“This is a question of equity and protecting patients who face illnesses likes cancer, epilepsy, and chronic pain against needless workplace discrimination. This issue is even more pressing as we face the ongoing and deadly opioid epidemic because medical cannabis can be a less addictive option. Currently, 16 states have extended similar worker protections and it’s time for California to do the same.” 

Bonta is author of Assembly Bill 2355, which would protect the employment rights of cannabis users. He has been a true champion on this issue. We were proud to honor him with our 2020 Legislative Leadership Award 

Three panel discussions on the so-called “vape crisis;” cannabis licensing, compliance, and expanding access; and legislative and regulatory consumer protection made for a very informative day. I believe it was a great way to start us on our mission.

 The Bureau of Cannabis Control has its mission, other industry trades groups have theirs, but ours is dedicated solely to the consumer. While we too have members from business and labor, we also have cannabis advocates, veterans, athletes, and policy experts, all with the unified goal of empowering the consumer with information and advocacy.