The Madison Cannabis Co-op

The CBD molecule. “CBD” stands for “Cannabidiol.” Image from Wikipedia.

The best-known of the cooperative principles is Principle 6, “Cooperation among cooperatives.” So, it only made sense that when MCDC started talking with the South Central Wisconsin Hemp Cooperative about processing, marketing, and distributing hemp products, that we would form another co-op. Fast-forward to today, and the Madison CBD Co-op is about to incorporate. Here is how they describe themselves…

Madison Cannabis Cooperative is a worker owned hemp/CBD processing cooperative that values science, social justice, and sustainability. As the capital city of a state rooted in agriculture, containing one of the top research universities in the country, it is our responsibility to learn from the inequitable pitfalls experienced by other states in their hemp and cannabis markets to create a more informed and equitable alternative. Actively assessing the needs of the producers and consumers in our local hemp supply chain has allowed us to establish clear goals to meet these needs. 

By coordinating with the South Central WI Hemp Cooperative (a local producer-led certified organic hemp co-op, formed with support by the UW Center for Cooperatives), MCC recognizes the risks that our local farmers bravely endure season after season. We aim to relieve some of this risk by providing the highest quality botanical processing services that ensures the integrity of their crops and a guaranteed living wage for farmers. We strive to be a partner to Wisconsin farmers who are looking for new opportunities and ways to reinvigorate their farms during these difficult times. MCC intends to serve as an example of a cooperative, values-based business model to encourage other non-cooperative businesses to form or convert to the worker co-op model with the goal of growing our local cannabis economy in socially and environmentally responsible ways. We will continue to work with SCWHC and other co-ops to coordinate efforts with the aim of developing a second-tier cooperative of co-ops in the supply and distribution chain. 

In the midst of a global pandemic and an unprecedented economic shift, the consumer demand for affordable and effective wellness-based CBD products will likely continue to increase. MCC strives to provide cooperatively sourced, scientifically crafted, organic CBD products to the Madison community and beyond. In order to ensure a market of conscious CBD consumers, it is essential that our co-op initiative aids in providing scientifically based cannabis education. Educating our community is the key to normalizing and promoting the exponential medicinal and environmental benefits of the hemp plant. 

Within this education, it is crucial to not only recognize, but raise awareness around the systemic economic and racial disparity that exists as a direct result of cannabis prohibition, the “War on Drugs” and even current cannabis policy. MCC will collaborate with local community organizations, like Nina Collective (a local co-op consulting agency) to provide racial and gender equity training from the ground level of organizing and as we gain new member-owners. We are dedicated to building our hemp co-op culture with the goal of promoting inclusivity, diversified outreach and job opportunities to marginalized communities who have been disproportionately impacted by US drug policy. Recruiting worker-owners previously incarcerated for cannabis convictions and advocating for necessary cannabis policy changes will aid in establishing racial equity in the WI hemp supply chain.

Southern Wisconsin’s vibrant economic history in hemp production and manufacturing, previous to its prohibition, allows us to anticipate the future success of the hemp industry in our state. MCC recognizes that only in cooperation can we compete with large corporate industry and is committed to answering the call to cannabis agriculture in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. In solidarity with our Wisconsin state motto, Madison Cannabis Cooperative strives to move this industry “Forward,” to a lasting and equitable future in a flourishing hemp supply chain.

To learn more about the Madison Cannabis Co-op, write Felicia Freund. To learn more about MCDC, write Steve Herrick or Charity Schmidt.