Reacting to the state’s mercurial moves to regulate the cannabis market, the High Desert Cannabis Association was formed to protect the rights of local businesses and patients.
The truism “all politics is local” is all too real for the cannabis industry, especially in California, where state legislators last year opted for a regulatory scheme that puts the ultimate destiny of businesses (and patients) in the hands of their local city and municipal councils. The art and science of democracy was never more in play as a result, with people around the state organizing to protect their collective interests.
Dispensary owner Tim Graston recently formed the High Desert Cannabis Association (HDCA) to protect the interests of businesses in southern California’s Mojave Desert region. Graston was kind enough to answer questions about the organization and its goals.
“What we have found is that most cities that have put bans in place did so out of a lack of understanding of medical cannabis and the surrounding industry.” – Tim Graston
When was HDCA founded, and what was the motivation for creating a local trade association? What geographic area does it encompass?
The High Desert Cannabis Association was founded in February 2016. I recognized that the upcoming turmoil surrounding California’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) would affect all local medical cannabis patients and businesses. It was time to work together to fight for our patients. The motivation for our association was to represent as one industry to protect the rights of our local medical cannabis patients, business managers, and cultivators/manufacturers. The High Desert Cannabis Association is currently carrying out our mission in the High Desert and Inland Empire.
How many members did you start with and how many do you have now? Does a particular area of business dominate the roster?
The association was formed by a group of eight individuals. We now represent a group of approximately three times that number. Our association contains members from all facets of the cannabis industry, including cultivators, testing laboratories, collectives, distributors, and transport specialists, just to name a few.
Are you seeing an increase in the number of cannabis-related businesses opening in the High Desert? Have you noticed any particular growth trends?
As with any industry, there are always businesses coming and going. In our opinion, there has not been a substantial increase in cannabis-related businesses in the area as of yet.
What is the current situation in terms of local municipalities and the regulation of cannabis businesses?
With the post-MMRSA signing scramble, many local governments made hasty and reactive decisions to ban and expel all medical-cannabis-related activity in their local jurisdictions. This includes some of the local cities in San Bernardino County and the surrounding area.
Delivery is an especially important service for patients in rural areas, but many of towns seem to want to prohibit it. What is the situation in your area? Is delivery part of your policy agenda?
As mentioned earlier, many of the local cities in and around San Bernardino County passed quick prohibitions after the signing of MMRSA. What we have found is that most cities that have put bans in place did so out of a lack of understanding of medical cannabis and the surrounding industry. It is part of the High Desert Cannabis Association’s core mission to represent our local medical cannabis communities to our local governments and elected officials, including educating them on how the industry works, why it is needed locally, the benefits it can bring to local economies, and sponsoring reasonable ordinances and regulations to make it possible.
What is unique about the High Desert as it relates to the cannabis business and culture?
The High Desert is unique in the cannabis culture in that it contains the City of Adelanto, which listened to its local community and their standpoint on medical cannabis. Adelanto is now leading cannabis reform in the state by passing innovative, state-compliant medical cannabis regulation and inviting the industry in.
What services does HDCA spend most of its time providing? When you hear from your members, what are their most important needs and concerns?
The HDCA spends a large portion of its time providing medical cannabis education to local city governments and officials. The foremost concern our membership has surrounds the local regulations being enacted or revised in the area. It is of utmost importance to all the members of our association to ensure all cannabis businesses are compliant with state and local guidelines. This includes any and all permitting or licensing options available to our local cannabis businesses.
Do you want to mention any calls to action? Are there messages you think members and non-members in the High Desert need to hear?
Yes: Represent your industry and community. Express your beliefs to local officials so they are aware of the cannabis demand in their jurisdictions. In approaching local officials, make sure you educate yourselves as thoroughly as possible about current legislation both locally and statewide. A great way to stay on top of the mentioned concerns would be to join us at the HDCA-hosted monthly luncheons. We bring together industry leaders, financial specialists, and legal counsel at the luncheons to keep our membership in the loop.
14592 Palmdale Rd #224
Victorville, CA 92392
Contact Number: 760-217-3577
Email: [email protected]