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ICIA Holds Second Annual 'Wisconsin Cannabis Industry & Policy Summit'

The biggest takeaway: "The time to take action is now."

The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association held the second annual “Wisconsin Cannabis Industry and Policy Summit” at the Ho-Chunk Casino & Hotel on February 29, 2024.
The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association held the second annual “Wisconsin Cannabis Industry and Policy Summit” at the Ho-Chunk Casino & Hotel on February 29, 2024.
Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association

National hemp and cannabis industry leaders convened with tribal nations from across Wisconsin last Thursday at the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association's (ICIA) second annual "Wisconsin Cannabis Industry and Policy Summit" at the Ho-Chunk Casino & Hotel. The Wisconsin-focused cannabis summit provided industry education, advocacy and resources with the goal of increasing accessibility of plant medicine to communities across Wisconsin.

"The top takeaway from the event was that the time to take action is now," says ICIA Founder Rob Pero. "The welfare of our communities is at stake while we wait for policy reform to provide clear access to cannabis for our communities in need, including Wisconsin's veteran population but also people of all ages who seek relief."

Pero, a Wisconsin-based cannabis entrepreneur and member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is also the founder of Wisconsin’s first independent Indigenous-owned hemp company Canndigenous.

Watch: Canndigenous Advocates for Native American Tribes in Cannabis

Pero founded ICIA in 2022 as a national advocacy organization with the mission to increase accessibility to plant medicine and empower sustainable economic opportunities for Indigenous people in cannabis through policy, programming and outreach initiatives.

The ICIA has been laying the groundwork of education and providing the state’s tribal nations and the greater cannabis industry opportunities for resource sharing and alignment. Several tribal governments have joined ICIA’s membership in support of its goal to create a pathway to policy reform at the community, state and federal level.

"A closed-door intensive meeting with tribal leaders identified the opportunity for Indigenous voices to lead policy reform in Wisconsin,” adds Pero. “Indigenous communities are developing actionable steps to investigate entry points to the industry. We’re at a critical juncture to begin moving forward with a unified approach that not only builds sustainable economic opportunity for Indigenous people in Wisconsin, but that provides a safe and responsible pathway to plant medicine for the benefit of all people."

At the summit, ICIA received approval from its membership and support from attendees to launch a state-wide public awareness campaign this year. Led by ICIA, tribal nations across Wisconsin will begin to release messaging about the importance of cannabis policy reform.

"Tribes are motivated to work within the regulations of the USDA Farm Bill and within existing legal opportunities. Meanwhile, we’re going to begin educating the public about the importance of passing cannabis policy reform," says Pero. "We have to stop waiting to get good medicine to people throughout this state."

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