After a merger that saw him become the new executive director of Cannabis Growers of Canada, Ian Dawkins said he’s ready to continue working to provide a united voice for the cannabis industry.

Earlier this week, CGC absorbed cannabis entrepreneurial trade association CARDAGAN, a move Dawkins said was a natural fit for both groups.

“The best way for us to move forward is to unite into some kind of broadband trade association that would stand up for interests and push back against the negative messaging that we’re hearing,” he said. “We all agreed on the core, key things, which are the the rights of small and medium sized cannabis businesses to participate in this economy.”

Dawkins said the group aims to not look at dispensaries and growers separately, but viewing the industry as a whole and making sure it’s accessible to the average Canadian.

“There’s a threat out there, there’s businesses that are trying to put us all out of business and block us from this market and participating in cannabis,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins said the group will be able to do more outreach than ever, letting the community know that there’s someone willing to speak for the “mom and pop” shops.

“I now have access to the best subject matter experts, CGC they know more about growing and the medical system here than just about everyone, and it allows me to take more of a role in political advocacy and setting up meetings to politicians and articulating to them who we are, and what we stand for, and who our membership is.”

With the Allard decision still fresh on many people’s minds, Dawkins said now is the time to unite for businesses that have been, and continue to be, under pressure.

“They’ve been under so much threat of legal action and police involvement their whole lives, their whole careers, their whole businesses, that if you’re a grower, until yesterday morning you were holding your breath,” he said. “People haven’t been able to organize and communicate between themselves.

“It’s difficult, you don’t know who to trust, you don’t know who’s good, who’s bad, who’s affiliated with the more criminal elements of our industry, so it’s a real grab bag.”

Now, Dawkins said, these conversations can begin to bring together like-minded individuals in the community that are committed to high standards of practice.

“We can be assured that the people inside CGC, the businesses who signed up, that they share your fellow beliefs,” Dawkins said. “If you’re a grower, you stand up for small dispensaries. If you’re a dispensary, you want your product to come from the best growers, not these big LPs who are making this crap.”

Dawkins said the group is busy establishing a code of conduct for members, such as looking at running all product through standard analytic labs and creating a standardized patient systems to better protect users’ information.

“We can have that conversation about what are our standards for business practices as an industry, what do we expect from a good dispensary, a good grower, a good oil maker, a good lawyer – what do we want them all to do in this community,” Dawkins said.

“Getting everyone to sign a code of conduct and then democratically workshop what that looks like… that to my mind is the most important thing that we do when we unite, and it lets me turn around to the politicians and say ‘see, these are reasonable people, they know how to sell cannabis, they know how to grow cannabis, they make the best stuff in the world.’”

More information on CGC and becoming a member can be found on their website.