Chaos at NCIA
The NCIA - National Cannabis Industry Association - is in turmoil, and employees and directors are under non-disclosure agreements, which makes it difficult to ascertain the magnitude of the problems. But allegations of sexual misconduct, irresponsible spending, and questionable leadership are leaking out.
CBE (Cannabis Business Executive) obtained a copy of an internal email sent from Kayvan Khalatbari, who recently resigned from the NCIA board. In it, he makes statements that suggest that NCIA is in turmoil, and that Executive Director Aaron Smith is at the root of the numerous problems.
Smith recently fired Genifer Murray as Chief of Staff after just two months on the job. Murray, a well-respected leader in the cannabis industry, was brought in to bring order to the organization, but we believe that when she tried to fix the the many problems at the company, she was met with resistance from employees and management that wanted to continue to ride the gravy train.
CBE reports that the NCIA board hastily constructed a committee over the holidays to investigate claims of mismanagement and other serious allegations of Smith’s actions as Executive Director.
We surmise from Khalatbari's email that the NCIA is embroiled in sexual harassment issues and is engaged in irresponsible spending of member's fees.
A copy of his email, as originally published by CBE, is below:
From: Kayvan Khalatbari
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2017 7:01 PM
To: All NCIA Board Members
Subject: NCIA Board Resignation
This email shall serve as my resignation from the NCIA board of directors, effective the date of the next election in 2018. This would cut my second term one year short. Beyond the career change I am in the middle of, which I need to focus on in dramatic fashion, I’m concerned about the direction of the organization, its leadership, and how we’ve become accustom to resolving our disputes internally.
The controversies related to Glenn and Neal were managed irresponsibly, at best. I spoke with (a board member/CBE) just last night who spilled the beans on all the info she got form (from/CBE) a fellow board member yesterday about our last board meeting. It’s unfortunate to me that we have board members who attack Glenn for a lack of discretion, only to be just as guilty as those accusations a week later. I feel many on the board have lost respect for one another and that collectively we’ve devolved to a point of dysfunction. We’re simply not serving the members of NCIA in the manner that we should be.
We’re also not focusing on other major issues that have been going on with our Executive Director for some time, which all of us have known about and have chosen to ignore. Unfortunately, I believe those things are about to come to a head very publicly and that the association will suffer irreparable damage, especially if we handle these upcoming controversies as we have others recently. I consider Aaron Smith a very good friend of mine and would do just about anything for him but, putting on my NCIA director hat, I haven’t been happy with how he’s handled conflict during my time as a director here. Whether it be Women Grow, the conversations about minority inclusion, Neal/Glenn, the sexual misconduct allegations, irresponsible spending, etc… I’ve not seen the leader I wanted to in how those conversations were handled. Even giving Aaron the benefit of the doubt and assuming they are all false accusations, I still don’t like what I’ve heard from him, or from others in how he’s responded to those criticisms. I think it’s something the board needs to discuss very deeply and have an earnest conversation about very soon. I am happy to be a part of those.
I am also happy to speak with each of you individually, especially Aaron, about these things. I’ve had at least half the board discuss these things with me one-on-one, so I believe we can avoid pretending like this is some surprise, or that I should have taken this directly to Aaron first. Most of us are aware of these things and we owe it to the organization and to our members to deal with it before it’s too late. I have spoken with Ean at length about this the past couple months and he’s prepared to have this conversation as well.
In the end, I value the relationships (friendships) I have with each of you and look forward to finishing my half-term in the most productive manner possible. Please let me know if you’d like to schedule a time to chat. I’m off to a company holiday party. Be well.
Kayvan S.T. Khalatbari