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Ethics in the Cannabis Industry

Cannabis Integrity Authority set to Educate Sellers in Responsible Behavior

Did you hear that the Cannabis Integrity Authority (CIA) has been formed to teach business ethics, patient safety and help currently operating cannabis businesses establish professional standards? The professional association has opened the doors to its online site and has mentioned several upcoming announcements, including the advisement that CIA is now looking for more Cannabis Industry Experts to apply as Instructors for the CIA Online Platform.

I’m not sure the Authority should have picked CIA for its acronym although it is a kind of intelligence gathering agency albeit in the weed education and ethics business. However, is it needed? Will it do any good? Who is funding it? What are the ethical standards it promotes?

These are all important questions and are likely to be addressed going forward. It does seem to be a good idea with the burgeoning cannabis industry that has spread its wings from medical marijuana dispensaries to a growing pot industry for all to access in states like Colorado. CIA provides uniquely created and proprietorially designed training classes, in Live Seminar Workshop format, to existing cannabis businesses, state agencies, employees, unemployed members of the workforce, non-profits, medical personnel and entrepreneurs interested in getting into the medical marijuana industry or just needing information regarding the industry in a professional format. CIA also works with companies, state agencies, law enforcement, interest groups and small businesses to help design and implement cannabis training modules for all industry positions in the MMJ markets, based on the specific needs and requirements of that group. CIA’s educational platform allows for high quality, university level instruction courses taught by industry experts who adhere to the CIA principles. These courses very specifically include detailed examinations that are designed to test the learning experience of the student in a tangible, valuable manner, reflecting the student's learning of the course information. Passing the examination with a specific score level, or higher, provides students a certification for attendance, completion or understanding. Certifications, once received, are viewable online by third parties to whom students have provided a unique identifier code. This process leaves the privacy and security of the Certificate and student information entirely to the discretion of the student.

I can see it now. Colleges offering a degree in the Principles of Cannabis Behavior. In fact, California is set to open the country’s first cannabis college. Classes on the responsible sale and use of cannabis will be taught in the history, politics, and legalities of herb alongside seminars on growing and methods of ingestion. The question is will classroom education get interrupted by a raid by the Feds; that’s exactly what happened in April of 2012, when a bevy of DEA, IRS, and U.S. Marshals Service agents showed up on the doorsteps of Oaksterdam University, a cleverly named university combining Amsterdam, where pot has thrived for decades, and Oakland, where the university is located.

It may be time for federal regulation to oversee the medical marijuana industry that has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. There are now 23 states plus DC that have legalized the sale of medical marijuana and more likely to do so by 2016. What’s needed is a nationwide standard for the sale of marijuana to prevent abuse and the entry into the market by shady characters.

I wince at the idea of federal regulations because if it’s one thing that has been proven time and time again it is that the government is inept in regulatory oversight and it invites conflict of interest issues, abuse of power, and payoffs to regulators to look the other way when violations exist.

The answer, I believe, is for a nationwide standard to be developed for the Medical Marijuana Industry that is established by those within the MMJ industry and not by those who are in political positions that have not been involved, nor know, how the cannabis business efficiently, safely and appropriately operates. Thus, the Cannabis Integrity Authority holds promise as the enabling organization.

Many occupational groups first establish ethical standards by those in the association committed to responsible behavior and self-regulation. It should be no different for the cannabis industry. In developing such standards, the industry should be forward-looking and proactive to set and monitor ethical standards. This will keep federal regulation at bay and help to legitimize an industry that will continue to grow.

The door has been opened to the sale of marijuana, not only for medical use, a term that is widening all the time, but recreational use as well. I don’t think we can close that door anymore, and am not sure it is the way to go at least without further studies of possible damaging effects on users including young people.

Responsible behavior should be the mantra of the the marijuana industry. It is an ethical standard that transcends all businesses and pot sale and dispensaries should be no different.

Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on April 28, 2015. Professor Mintz is on the faculty of the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at:

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