NCIA Leadership Needs to be Removed
In what is perhaps the worst letter ever written, the Executive Director, Board Chair and Vice Chair of the NCIA sent a letter to its members, and boasted about their accomplishments, and then stated their disappointment with those that leveled serious accusations of financial and sexual misconduct at the organization.
The letter sophomorically starts out by listing all the accomplishments achieved by NCIA, as if this should negate the allegations of financial and sexual misconduct.
The letter goes on to say that they take "allegations of sexual misconduct seriously," so "the board convened an ethics review committee last week to investigate possible allegations that may be pending against (NCIA board member) Rob Kampia, who is suspended from the board pending final determination on the matter."
The problem with this is that the allegations of sexual misconduct against Rob Kampia did not just come to light last week. They have been widely known since 2010 when the Washington City Paper broke the story about the allegations against Kampia in his role as Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project. In the report it noted that one former employee complained to the MPP board that Kampia had exhibited “sexual harassment, openly predatory behavior, and complete and possibly sociopathic disregard for the harmful effects his actions have had on his employees.”
Then the ill-conceived letter goes on the attack and states: "Many of the other perspectives published recently were based on incomplete information and hearsay based on the opinion of a very small minority within the organization or a former employee with only six weeks' tenure at the organization."
This could be due to the fact that employees may be forced to sign non disclosure agreements and are prohibited from making disparaging comments about the organization, under the threat of serious legal actions.
The letter then states: "Members of the board are elected by our membership, and it is extremely disappointing to see their confidence so grossly disregarded in the recent breaches of confidentiality. That any board member would so blatantly jeopardize the board's fiduciary responsibilities to the organization is extremely disappointing. We take these matters seriously and are taking every possible action to determine the source of the leak and take appropriate action."
This poorly worded paragraph can be interpreted in several manners, but most telling is that the board and executive director are focused on finding "the source of the leak" rather than investigating and correcting the alleged problems.
Accordingly, it is clear that the NCIA board chairs and Executive Director are focused on keeping the status quo intact. This letter demonstrates that the executive management and board can not or will not investigate itself.
Therefore, we call for an immediate termination or resignation of NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith - Co-founder & Executive Director, Jaime Lewis - Board Chair, and AC Braddock - Vice-Chair.
Resign now in an act that would show real commitment to betterment of the cannabis industry.
Here is the letter sent from NCIA:
To Our Members:
As members of NCIA's Board, your confidence in our leadership is essential. With that in mind, we wanted to take a moment to address a recent discussion pertaining to your board.
Beyond the leaked items, anonymous sources and aggregated rumors circulated in recent days is a question: "What role does NCIA play in today's cannabis industry?"
At this critical moment for our industry, NCIA remains the most influential and essential national representative of the cannabis industry. Particularly with the Department of Justice's January 4, 2018, rescindment of the Cole Memo, we are focused on the most pressing matters at hand that are very much essential to NCIA's mission. As we write this, your team in Washington, D.C., is working with our allies in Congress to protect our industry in the wake of the recent DOJ announcement.
2017 was our most successful year to date, and NCIA's annual growth far outpaced the growth of the industry in general. NCIA membership rolls increased by 40% last year, and gross revenue was up 72% from 2016. In an industry that is growing rapidly, increased membership and revenue are important vital signs. More important, though, is that we are leveraging that success to increase our market share, provide better benefits and services to our members, and strengthen our influence in the policy conversations shaping our industry today.
As we confront possible attempts to destabilize state-sanctioned cannabis markets, NCIA is more prepared than ever to represent your interests with our strong lobbying presence in D.C., which grows stronger year after year because of members like you.
Our networking and educational events are also bigger and better than ever. Attendance grew by 37% over the previous year at our flagship event, the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo, and we launched two new major conferences with great success last year: The Seed to Sale Show and the California Cannabis Business Conference. This year's NCIA conferences will not only be larger, they will make an even more meaningful impact on attendees as our peer-reviewed educational content continues to improve to meet the educational needs of our changing industry. Additionally, our 2018 Quarterly Cannabis Caucus Event Series is underway and so far are already outpacing attendance expectations.
Participation in NCIA's 7th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days nearly doubled over the prior year, with nearly 300 attendees taking part in the two days of advocacy in Washington, D.C. We hope you'll join us for an even larger and more impactful Lobby Days to share your stories and experiences as a cannabis industry professional directly with national policymakers, May 21 through 23, 2018.
NCIA strongly supports the safety and success of women in the industry. We take any allegations of sexual misconduct seriously, and have a responsibility to address the news circulating recently regarding a member of our board.
In accordance with our bylaws, the board convened an ethics review committee last week to investigate possible allegations that may be pending against Rob Kampia, who is suspended from the board pending final determination on the matter. We are seeking resolution as quickly as possible while following the due process outlined by our policies, which are standard best practices in the association industry.
Many of the other perspectives published recently were based on incomplete information and hearsay based on the opinion of a very small minority within the organization or a former employee with only six weeks' tenure at the organization.
Members of the board are elected by our membership, and it is extremely disappointing to see their confidence so grossly disregarded in the recent breaches of confidentiality.
That any board member would so blatantly jeopardize the board's fiduciary responsibilities to the organization is extremely disappointing. We take these matters seriously and are taking every possible action to determine the source of the leak and take appropriate action.
Above all, the NCIA Board of Directors and staff are committed to advancing and defending the interests of our members. Your opinions, insights and questions will always be heard and considered. Rest assured that we remain as committed as ever to our responsibility as board members to supporting NCIA's growing success and influence within the industry and on Capitol Hill.
Now more than ever, it's essential that we work together to build a responsible, legitimate, sustainable industry. We are deeply grateful for the 1,500 member-businesses who make NCIA's essential work on the national stage possible. We look forward to continue serving your interests as we lead the charge for the industry in Washington, D.C. and beyond in 2018.
As always, we are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about our work.
Aaron Smith Co-founder & Executive Director
Jaime Lewis Board Chair
AC Braddock Vice-Chair