One of the worst parts of cannabis prohibition has to be purchasing cannabis from drug dealers; they are often unreliable, sketchy and inconsistent. You never know exactly what you are purchasing or if it is even worth your money. If your dealer rips you off, too bad so sad, but you are stuck with whatever you have. When you buy from the black market, there is no customer service.
In the legalized cannabis market, however, customer service is coming back in a big way. In an effort to bridge the gap between customers and cannabis providers, cannabis advocacy group NORML has paired with some of the industry’s leaders to create the NORML Business Network.
The network’s formation comes on the heels of last month’s opening of NORML’s first non-DC office in Denver. “We’re not opening a Denver office to combat illegalization or to fight a cultural war,” Allen St. Pierre, NORML’s executive director, told The Cannabist.
“We’re here to waive a green flag and acknowledge that we’re moving from prohibition to tax and control, and we’re here to ring out the best aspects of it and identify the worst parts of it and fix those parts where possible.” The opening of the Denver office and the formation of the NORML Business Network marks a significant pivot in the 44-year-old organization’s agenda.
Modeling itself after the Better Business Bureau, the NORML Business Network hopes to create a set of high standards for the cannabis industry, befitting its status as a commercial commodity. Their hope is to create an industry culture of self-regulation and social consciousness in order to utilize business as a force for positive change.
Like the Better Business Bureau, the NORML Business Network wants its stamp of approval to become synonymous with an honest, value-driven business. In order to qualify for membership in the NORML Business Network, prospective members have to agree to a private assessment of their products, facilities, business practices and customer relations practices.
The assessment is divided into four sections, each determining a weighted percentage of the overall score. The four sections are as follows: Products (39.1 percent of score), Sustainability (8.7 percent of score), Social Conscionability (26.1 percent of score) and Customer Relations (26.1 percent of score).
The NORML Business Network differs from other trade organizations, like the National Cannabis Industry Association, in that the NORML Business Network is more focused on consumer-business relations while the NCIA is more focused on inter-industry relations and advocacy. To put it another way, the NCIA is more like a trade union while the NORML Business Network is more of a consumer advocacy and protection group.
The NORML Business Network is off to a good start, partnering with big time names like WeedMaps, Marijuana.com and High Times Magazine. Undoubtedly, these A-List names in cannabis industry will do more than their part to attract ethical, sustainable and socially conscious cannabis companies.
The formation of groups like the NORML Business Network is a sign that we are in the closing days of the war on cannabis. When organizations like NORML are shifting focus from legalization to regulation, you know something good is happening. NORML’s network is also a welcome sign that the cannabis industry is going in the right direction.
One of the big fears of legalization is that the cannabis industry will morph into “Big Pot” and become like the tobacco industry. The formation of a value-driven organization like the NORML Business Network not only shows that the cannabis industry is interested in more than profit, but also that the cannabis industry is capable of self-regulation and control.