Get Involved: The Top Cannabis Industry Advocacy Groups

Everyday, more individuals are seeking out ways to learn about and get involved in the cannabis community. It’s more than just an isolated industry – it’s a movement that affects all walks of life.

With dozens of states pursuing cannabis reform in the next year, there are ample opportunities to get involved on both a community and national level.

Here are some of the top advocacy groups nationwide that are pushing our movement forward. Look for others that are local to your state or region!

National Cannabis Industry Association

The NCIA represents and lobbies for the cannabis industry as a whole. The group represents the economic interests of the industry, and since its founding in 2010, has gained influence in the realm of federal policy by directly engaging in the legislative process.

Benefits to joining up with NCIA are plentiful. Some of the biggest cannabis industry trade shows and gala events of the year are put on by NCIA, and for members, exclusive inter-industry discounts, networking opportunities, whitepapers and educational content are available digitally.

“NCIA is the only national trade association advancing the interests of the legitimate and responsible cannabis industry. Our industry supports tens of thousands of jobs, tens of millions in tax revenue, and billions in economic activity in the United States. NCIA is leading the unified and coordinated campaign to ensure this emerging sector is treated fairly under federal law.”

Drug Policy Alliance

The DPA was behind some of the greatest common-sense victories for cannabis in the last five years. The group was involved in legalization measures in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C. and Uruguay, as well as several criminal justice reform campaigns.

Bill Piper, DPA’s director of national affairs, also pens a compelling Huffington Post blog, where he discusses the primary ideological and legislative battles still ongoing in the journey to regulate cannabis and other psychotropic substances.

“The DPA is the nation’s leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

Our supporters are individuals who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. Together we advance policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and seek solutions that promote safety while upholding the sovereignty of individuals over their own minds and bodies. We work to ensure that our nation’s drug policies no longer arrest, incarcerate, disenfranchise and otherwise harm millions – particularly young people and people of color who are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.”

Americans for Safe Access

As far as grassroots patient advocacy goes, no group does more for the medical cannabis movement than ASA. Now that adult use cannabis legalization is becoming more popular, care must be taken to ensure that medical cannabis patients still receive an appropriate quality of care and protections under the law. Local ASA chapters engage and empower patient communities to advocate for dispensary access and other beneficial neighborhood policies.

Every year, ASA holds a Citizen Lobby Day at the state capitols of California and Washington, as well as a national Congressional lobby at the National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference in Washington, D.C., for patients to come together and influence federal policy. It’s a great way to get involved in medical cannabis at the grassroots level.

“The mission of ASA is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic uses and research. ASA works with our grassroots base of over 50,000 members to effect change using public education and direct advocacy at the local, state, and federal level.

Until ASA stood up for access, the national debate around medical cannabis was focused solely on the legality and ethics of arresting and prosecuting patients for cannabis use. That experience is real, but reflected only a fraction of the experiences that patients and this community were having on a daily basis. ASA brought the patient’s voice to the table, and we shifted the debate to the real concerns of patients: legal access to medicine and patients’ civil rights.”

Marijuana Policy Project

You’ll notice the MPP stamp of approval on several legalization campaigns during 2016. The organization’s advocacy focuses solely on improving cannabis laws, and they team up with DPA on many policy initiatives.

In addition to campaign advocacy, on its social media profiles, MPP shares supportive quotes from cannabis-friendly celebrities, politicians, and other influential public figures, making the cannabis movement relatable and palatable for the masses.

“MPP, which was founded in January 1995, is the largest organization in the U.S. that’s focused solely on ending marijuana prohibition.

MPP’s mission is to change federal law to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without federal interference, as well as to regulate marijuana like alcohol in all 50 states, D.C., and the five territories.

MPP and MPP Foundation envision a nation where marijuana is legally regulated similarly to alcohol, marijuana education is honest and realistic, and treatment for problem marijuana users is non-coercive and geared toward reducing harm.”

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

While they’re not specifically focused on cannabis, MAPS has made enormous strides in the realm of re-establishing human beings’ rights to their own minds and bodies. Currently they are conducting a clinical trial on cannabis treatment for PTSD.

Other studies in progress include psychotherapy and drug addiction treatments using psychedelic substances MDMA, LSD, Ibogaine and Ayahuasca. This group is absolutely at the forefront of real medical research into the psychedelic realm.

“Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.

We envision a world where psychedelics and marijuana are safely and legally available for beneficial uses, and where research is governed by rigorous scientific evaluation of their risks and benefits.”

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Wherever you go in the cannabis space, you’re likely to meet an SSDP alumni. Since 1998, the international student organization engages college (and high school) students in campaigns to end the global war on drugs, with cannabis as a common denominator issue. Many law and MBA or graduate students are also members.

SSDP also boasts an alumni association, currently in its pilot phase – a continued connecting thread between some of the nation’s most intelligent and influential young people.

“Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society.

SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth.”


Which cannabis industry or activist organization is your favorite? How else do you like to stay involved with your community?

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