Above all else, the National Cannabis Industry Association exists to represent the interests of legitimate and responsible cannabis-related businesses on the national stage. Our primary mission in this regard is to ensure that our members are treated like individuals and businesses in any other industry in this country. Cannabis-related businesses should not pay higher effective tax rates than other businesses or struggle to find bank accounts. And business owners certainly should not face the possibility of arrest and prosecution by federal authorities when they are acting in compliance with state law.
In addition to direct lobbying for changes in the law, NCIA promotes the economic benefits of the cannabis industry to an audience largely unfamiliar with the incredible progress being seen across the country. We want to make sure that the industry is given the credit it deserves for creating jobs, generating tax revenue and operating in a manner that best serves its customers, while respecting the concerns of other members of society. To this end, most of our energy is focused on lobbying in Washington, D.C.
CURRENT FEDERAL POLICY OBJECTIVES
Taxes - Banking - Prohibition
Protecting Businesses - Hemp - Accessories
OTHER INDUSTRY OBJECTIVES
Public Perceptions - Industry Standards
FAIR TAX POLICY
NCIA believes that state-sanctioned cannabis businesses should be able to take the same tax deductions as any other legitimate business, and we are working on Capitol Hill to make this a reality. Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits businesses involved in "drug trafficking" from deducting normal business expenses from their net income.
This policy is being applied to medical cannabis dispensaries operating legally under state law, resulting in their federal tax burden being significantly higher than that imposed on any other business. In fact, some medical cannabis operations could be driven out of business on account of this provision. As a result of NCIA's advocacy on behalf of the cannabis industry, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced the "Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011" during the 112th session of Congress, which would have exempted state-legal medical cannabis businesses from Section 280E. During the current session of Congress, NCIA is working with members of Congress on a strategy to have Section 280E permanently fixed.
EQUAL ACCESS TO BANKING
Nobody benefits when legal medical cannabis businesses are unable to work with financial institutions. As many professionals in the cannabis industry know, a large number of banks in this country are reluctant or simply not willing to work with entities involved in the sale of cannabis, even when those sales are legal under state law.
This is causing major difficulties for thousands of business owners who want to comply with state regulations and would better be able to do so with the assistance of a financial institution. NCIA is dedicated to finding a solution to this problem.
Our association intends to give all banks the confidence they need to work with cannabis-related businesses. In order to do so, we are talking to Treasury Department officials and members of Congress to develop either an administrative or legislative remedy. NCIA advocated for the introduction of H.R. 1984, the “Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011,” which was designed to provide state-legal medical cannabis businesses with better access to financial institutions by eliminating burdensome reporting requirements that currently discourage these institutions from working with our industry. We are now working with a variety of interested parties to push for an administrative solution to this problem.
NCIA is working to allow states to establish their own systems for regulating cannabis without federal interference. While we are likely a number of years away from the end of marijuana prohibition on the federal level, it is definitely time to push the conversation forward. By promoting the benefits of the cannabis industry, both for consumers and the economy, NCIA will gradually undermine support for prohibition.
In order to begin the process of organizing, NCIA is supporting a number of current bills in Congress, including the “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013” (H.R. 499), introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), which would regulate marijuana like alcohol under federal law.
SECURITY FOR EXISTING MEDICAL CANNABIS BUSINESSES
The Obama administration took an important step forward in 2009, when the Department of Justice issued a memo directing US Attorneys not to direct resources toward prosecuting individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. But with DEA administrator Michele Leonhart saying that she will continue to enforce draconian federal marijuana laws, even in states that allow medical cannabis, we need to make sure officials at the top level of the administration appreciate the importance of the industry. NCIA will reach out to administrative officials and arrange meetings between these officials and industry leaders so they appreciate that these businesses are providing medicine for patients, while creating good jobs and generating tax revenue.
LEGAL CULTIVATION OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP
NCIA supports the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 (H.R. 525 in the U.S. House of Representatives and S. 359 in the Senate) and will encourage members of Congress to co-sponsor these two bills. It is long past time to end the nonsensical ban on hemp cultivation in this country.
PROTECTION FOR CANNABIS ACCESSORY BUSINESSES
NCIA will seek repeal of the federal Drug Paraphernalia statutes so that massive federal actions like 2003’s Operation Pipe Dreams become a relic of the past.
IMPROVING PUBLIC PERCEPTION
NCIA is working to improve the American public’s perception of cannabis, cannabis consumers, and the industry that serves them. By seizing upon media opportunities in a timely fashion, we are able to convey our message to mass audiences at minimal cost. We believe that educating the public on the relative safety of cannabis compared to alcohol and the value the legal cannabis industry brings to the U.S. economy is key in our efforts to reform federal law.
ESTABLISHING INDUSTRY STANDARDS
As the nation’s trade association for the cannabis industry, NCIA has set out to develop and promote industry-wide standards and best practices. This includes general guidelines on issues ranging from product quality control to fair labor standards.