Please verify you're over 21. Enter your date of birth below.

Remember me

The CULTA Blog

What's the National Cannabis Industry Association?


If you’re involved in the cannabis trade, you’ll need to know the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). The NCIA is the largest cannabis trade association in the United States. They represent cannabis dispensary owners and operators, growers, wholesalers, entrepreneurs, policy advocates, and more.

Since cannabis legalization in the United States is still fairly recent, people in the cannabis industry may not have the same professional and legal resources as other industries. Thankfully, the National Cannabis Industry Association is working to change this. In this blog, learn more about this professional group and how they can help you.  

History of the NCIA

The National Cannabis Industry Association, or NCIA, is a nonprofit group that was founded in 2010. It was established in response to a Justice Department memo, known as the Ogden Memo, which set a precedent for the decriminalization of medicinal cannabis. This memo laid the foundation for the legalization of medicinal cannabis as well as recreational cannabis in many states.

As legal forms of cannabis became more widely accepted across the United States, the new industry around cannabis needed organization and advocacy. The NCIA was started by Aaron Smith and Steve Fox, two long-time advocates of legalizing cannabis. Soon, the group expanded and began lobbying in Washington D.C. on behalf of cannabis industry workers as well as patients and caregivers.

Over time, the NCIA’s membership has grown to include thousands. It’s the nation’s most powerful cannabis trade association. They have a leadership board featuring many of the cannabis industry’s most prominent players. To this day, the NCIA’s work continues to help businesses and professionals in the legal cannabis industry. 

Policy and advocacy work

Like our friends at The Last Prisoner Project, policy and advocacy are the cornerstones of the National Cannabis Industry Association’s work. The NCIA’s mission is to advance and defend legal cannabis use. The association fights for fair taxation and regulation of cannabis businesses, as well as ensuring that compliant members aren’t subject to federal discrimination or harrassment. 

The NCIA also helps set policies and practices within the cannabis industry. They strive to create sustainable growing practices, responsible marketing, and better education among legal cannabis professionals and consumers. By offering valuable resources to its members, the NCIA helps legitimize practices within the cannabis industry to help pave the way for more legalization.

State and local chapters

The National Cannabis Industry Association has two official offices located in Denver, CO and Washington, D.C. This cannabis trade association also employs staff in California and Washington state. 

While they do not operate official state and local chapters, the NCIA is involved with a group called the Allied Associations Program that helps individuals create and maintain their own organization. The NCIA’s Allied Associations Program can connect members to smaller groups or help them start their own.

In addition to state and local chapters, there are various committees that allow members to get directly involved in specific issues. There are currently 14 different committees, including retail, DEIC, marketing, and packaging. 

“As someone who works in the cannabis industry, joining the NCIA is one of the best things you can do to advocate for policy reform and regulation,” said Nick McCormick, Packaging Consultant at Taylor Prime Labels & Packaging. “I’m part of the Packaging & Labeling Committee (PLC) and I love working with other committee members to develop recommendations for the standardization of cannabis packaging.”  

Educational resources

Education is a vital part of any cannabis trade association. Whether it’s educating consumers, doctors, and patients about the medicinal benefits of cannabis, or lobbying lawmakers to expand legalization, the NCIA provides many resources to advance the cause. 

The NCIA runs national trade shows, conferences, Lobby Days, and regional Cannabis Caucus events. During elections, the NCIA provides free resources to help members understand political candidates’ positions on cannabis. Through the NCIA’s membership directory, you can also find professionals such as lawyers and consultants who can assist your cannabis business.

Membership benefits

When you’re a member of the NCIA, you gain access to a number of valuable benefits. 75% of NCIA membership dues are also tax deductible as a business expense. This cannabis trade association offers multiple membership options to fit your needs and help your cannabis business grow.

As a member of the NCIA, you’ll gain access to virtual events, discounts on attendance to in-person trade shows, and access to the group’s member directory. Members can also stay up to date with the latest news in the cannabis industry via the NCIA’s newsletters, emails, and annual reports.

Being a member of the NCIA also helps you stay connected with other professionals in the cannabis industry. They can help you understand new laws, changes to the tax code, as well as industry trends.

How to join the National Cannabis Industry Association

If you’re interested in joining a cannabis trade association, the National Cannabis Industry Association is one of the best groups in the country. Businesses and individuals can apply for membership on the NCIA’s website

Once admitted, the NCIA asks members to follow its code of conduct. This helps the industry maintain its commitment to integrity and ethical standards. The NCIA’s code of conduct asks members to:

  • Follow all state and local laws
  • Act with professionalism and portray cannabis in a positive light
  • Commit to continued education and staying up to date on the latest information regarding the cannabis industry
  • Create and maintain a safe, healthy working environment for all employees
  • Comply with truth-in-advertising practices and refrain from deceptive or unethical marketing tactics  
  • Treat other members with respect and act in good faith

By joining the NCIA, you and your cannabis business can continue to thrive and expand. This cannabis trade association is a powerful ally to have on your side as you embark on a career in the cannabis industry. Good luck!