PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the challenges that Oregon’s cannabis industry is facing, two competing trade associations announced Tuesday that they’re merging effective immediately.

With no safe banking or bankruptcy protections, along with heavy taxation and oversaturation of the market, local cannabis businesses are up against some harsh realities. This is why the Oregon Cannabis Association (OCA) and the Cannabis Industry Alliance of Oregon (CIAO) decided to merge.

On the surface, Oregon’s craft cannabis industry may seem fine, but behind the scenes, it’s in a tailspin.

“If I look through my phone of all of my close friends and colleagues from 2017, very few are still in business,” said Mike Getlin, the board chair of the Cannabis Industry Alliance of Oregon and a leader at Nectar. “It is more important now than it’s ever been to speak with one unified voice and to work as one unified body with regulators and legislators to try and figure out a way to carve out a better future for our businesses.”

A local cannabis farmer said businesses like hers are struggling to survive in a market where profitability is rare.

“It’s been it’s been really tough because as you look at budgets in a really constrained market –less than 30% of businesses are profitable,” said Marianne Cursetjee, owner of Alabi Cannabis.

Cursetjee also said she hopes that people in the industry will be “treated like any other business” in terms of taxes and common sense rules. She believes that the merger can lead the state’s hundreds of businesses and thousands of employees toward a sustainable future.

Recent scandals and upcoming national changes in the reclassification of cannabis further cloud the industry’s future, but cannabis businesses are determined to advocate for necessary changes.

Otherwise, business leaders said that a failing industry would lead to lower quality products, fewer of them, and more consumers going back to unlicensed sources for products.

“It’s a community that we all really value and we want to see survive and thrive,” Getlin said. “We want something more than a bunch of minimum wage jobs owned by out-of-state and potentially even overseas financial interests. So that’s what this fight is really about for us.”

Hunter Neubauer, President of OCA, added, “With this merger, we embark on a journey that strengthens our ability to advocate for a thriving, safe, and respected legal cannabis industry. Together, we will champion changes our industry deserves, from modernized regulations to social equity and a stable licensure system.”

Oregon has gained recognition for its exceptional cannabis, and local businesses are determined not to let what they consider one of the state’s greatest economic opportunities go to waste.