Since merging with the Cannabis Retailers, Distributors, and Growers’ Association in February, Cannabis Growers of Canada has experienced what executive director Ian Dawkins called “explosive growth” in membership.

“The CGC had a handful of paid members and now we’re approaching our 100th fully-paid member, once you hit that threshold it brings with it a certain amount of momentum,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins said most of that growth is coming from dispensaries and cannabis-related businesses, with expansion growing as new members talk to their growers or retailers about the trade organization.

“This week I’ve already had several conversations about dispensaries who have been taking to their growers and suppliers saying ‘you should join,’” said Dawkins. “I think that growth in the hundreds is not unreasonable for the remainder of the year, potentially in the thousands, there’s certainly a lot of cannabis businesses in this country and they’re all eager to be represented.”

When CGC president Chad Jackett first started the organization his intention wasn’t to exclude non-growers from joining, but to look at the entire industry.

“You can’t have growers without retailers and you certainly can’t have any retailers without growers,” said Jackett. “I realized that nobody else in the industry was really looking at the industry as a whole, and you have to look at it from the very base of the industry — which is the growers.

“When I first envisioned the Cannabis Growers of Canada it was really to put the entire industry together and make it work as refined, fine-tuned machine that works in the best interest of the people.”

While the cannabis industry expands, Dawkins said it’s important to unite all members operating in it and the group has made an effort to target different sectors to let them know about how the CGC can aide them.

“We understand their issues and we’re trying to create a unified trade association that represents the entirety of the cannabis economy,” Dawkins said. “We now represent edible makers and professional services companies that aren’t directly in the cannabis industry, but which serve it. We’ve got a lot of dispensary members now and value-added product producers.”

Jackett explained that CGC members are held to the highest standards of the cannabis industry to ensure that patients and customers can trust the products and services they receive.

“The Growers is going to represent the best practices of the people that created the industry in the beginning and also be a voice for everybody to get what they want – true legalization and a free and fair market,” said Jackett. “We need to be that voice.”

Dawkins said, as the group takes on more and more members across the country, the benefits to those in the organization, like political representation, also increase, for growers, retailers and other related businesses.

“As a trade association, one of the things we can do is negotiate on behalf of our members so we’re heavily involved in getting value-added products such as banking services and insurance products that are specifically tailored to the cannabis industry,” Dawkins said.

“Our growers and our value-added product makers will know what to produce to satisfy dispensary customers and the dispensaries will have more intelligence about who they’re serving. Those are the type of things you usually have to be a big company to get at, but because we’re all banding together we can share those resources and that intelligence.”

Jackett said it’s vital for the industry to unite, as legalization opens the door to new players like pharmaceutical and liquor groups that want to shut out established members of the community.

“We’re at the point of critical mass,” said Jackett. “The powers that be are trying to take hold of our industry. It’s time for us to stand-up and work together and not allow them to hijack our movement for their own cause and put their face on the hard work we’ve done.”

For more information about Cannabis Growers of Canada and becoming a member visit their website.