BEST OF THE INDUSTRY 2019: MoCannTrade
Over 1,000 Greenway readers made nominations online for the Best of the Industry 2019. This inaugural reader’s choice presentation is unique – the 2020’s is sure to look a little different.
Find features about the winners of categories in the Businesses & Professionals section in Greenway Magazine and online. For the CBD, Patient Care, and Advocacy sections, check out the categorical winners in the Spring 2020 issue of Greenway Patients Magazine and online.
Winners of these reader’s choice awards were recognized at the MoCannBizCon after party on March 2, 2020, at the incredible St. Louis Union Station.
These winners are definitive leaders in the culmination of this industry. Greenway Media congratulates each awardee on being recognized by their peers.
The potential membership pool was tiny when the roots of MoCannTrade (Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association) first took hold: two St. Louis-area nonprofits were granted a license in 2014 to cultivate, manufacture and dispense CBD extract to epilepsy patients. Executive Director and President Andrew Mullins (pictured, right) said it was their foresight into Missouri’s emerging industry that served as a catalyst. Fast-forward to 2020, and MoCannTrade has been the driving force to unify the industry under one voice with one goal: to ensure the best possible medical marijuana program in the U.S.
Greenway readers voted MoCannTrade as the best organization for business advocacy in 2019.
“Since early 2018, MoCannTrade has hosted more than 50 member-focused industry events (meetups) as well as the highly successful MoCannBizCon+Expo, a statewide industry event boasting nearly 2,000 attendees. From business owners and operators in cultivation, manufacturing and retail dispensing to service providers like security consultants, CPAs, attorneys, equipment providers, industry consultants and technology providers all converged on Union Station in St. Louis for the group’s inaugural trade show and business expo.
“It was a coming-out party with a level of anticipatory buzz that exceeded even its organizers’ greatest expectations—not to mention a public show of force of the industry’s transformative social and economic potential more than a year and a half pre-market.”
MoCannTrade, however, is not your typical trade organization – it was founded before the industry was founded.
“In most states, individuals and groups apply for medical marijuana licenses and then subsequently a license holding industry association forms,” Mullins said. “The problem with this approach is so many of the timelines, rules, regulations, and standards are already set without the benefit of industry stakeholder engagement. In many states, confusion and disagreement over rules have led to the program getting bogged down and delayed during an unsuccessful implementation.
“In Missouri, the constitutional deadlines were hit, stakeholders were engaged, and in many instances, like testing standards and reversing the cash payment ban, it was MoCannTrade researching and supporting best practices from other states to improve Missouri’s rules,” Mullins continued. “MoCannTrade worked early to bring the industry together through connections, advocacy, and events which enabled the industry to get a head start on speaking with a unified industry voice, which makes a big difference for Missouri license holders, patients, and veterans.”
MoCannTrade hosts monthly meetups around the state, providing information and networking access for a quickly developing and often confusing industry. Meetups hosted between 35-200 people in 2019, depending on which city they were located.
“For a new industry, we knew we had to work very hard to ensure we provided the needed information, connections, and context for successful industry participation,” Mullins said. “We’ve also used our meetups to build our membership because so many people found value in attending. We’ve never charged admission for members to attend our monthly member meetups and we believe that is a big part of the event series’ success along with a stellar lineup of speakers and presenters.”
Now that licenses are out, MoCannTrade is cognisant of changes ahead. Their focus on government advocacy will continue to play a major role.
“MoCannTrade will continue to provide relevant programming, thought leadership, policy guidance, and member value as we’ve done since day one,” Mullins said. “But post-licensure our role shifts from a preparation focus to more of a focus on protecting and enhancing the value of licenses and the industry in Missouri.
“Let me give you an example,” Mullins pointed out. “There’s legislation right now in the Missouri Senate that would essentially ban edible sales in the state. That’s harmful to patients, contrary to many physicians’ advice, and terrible for our Missouri industry. While our members are mainly focused on building out their facilities and getting their businesses off the ground, MoCannTrade is hard at work making sure this irresponsible legislation or any other that challenges the spirit of the amendment, the industry and patient’s needs.”
A highly regulated industry is not foreign to the majority of MoCannTrade’s leadership – and Mullins himself is no exception. Member-leaders hail from consumer packaged goods (CPG) to finance and health care.
“I’ve worked in numerous regulated CPG industries over the years,” Mullins said. “Whether it be working to help brand and promote the sales of beer, spirits, e-cigs or even an energy drink … I’ve never felt the true gratification from knowing my efforts and the collective efforts of my peers are providing an actual health benefit to patients. Hearing stories of health and healing from family, friends, and patients across Missouri really feels heartwarming. Knowing these patients will soon have convenient and legal access to this medicine provides a feeling unequal to any from my past. I am simply elated!”