History | The National Cannabis Industry Association
NCIA

Our History


The National Cannabis Industry Association was founded in 2010 at a time after the release of the Ogden Memo by Justice Department directing prosecutors not to prioritize the use of federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana, laying the groundwork for a new national industry.

Since our inception, NCIA has dedicated itself to promote the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and work for a favorable social, economic, and legal environment for that industry in the United States. Our founders established NCIA based on the principle of power in numbers. The thousands of American businesses involved in the state-legal cannabis industries represent a tremendous economic force in this country. As the industry’s national trade association, NCIA works every day to ensure our growing business sector is represented in a professional and coordinated way on the national stage.

 

NCIA's Historical Timeline

October 2009

Ogden Memo is released by Justice Department directing prosecutors not to prioritize the use of federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana, laying the groundwork for a new national industry.

November 2010

NCIA is formed as the cannabis industry’s only national trade association by long-time marijuana policy reform leaders Aaron Smith and Steve Fox

March 2011

Six association members join Smith and Fox for NCIA’s 1st Cannabis Industry Lobby Days in Washington, D.C.

May 2011

  • The Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011 (H.R. 1984), which would exempt state-legal cannabis businesses from Suspicious Activity Report requirements, is introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Jared Polis
  • The Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011 (H.R. 1985), which would correct the unfair tax burden of Section 280E, is introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA)

June 2011

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) introduce the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 (H.R. 2306) with NCIA’s support.

November 2012

Colorado and Washington become the first two states to legalize marijuana for adult use and sales via voter initiative

July 2013

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduces the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013 (H.R. 2652) in the House of Representatives

August 2013

James M. Cole, the Deputy Attorney General, issues new guidance regarding marijuana enforcement and banking, referred to as the “Cole Memo.”

September 2013

Sen. Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee holds oversight hearing on federal marijuana policy

November 2013

NCIA hires full-time Director of Government Relations in Washington, D.C., the first-ever full-time lobbyist on behalf of cannabis businesses at the federal level

February 2014

Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) published its own expectations regarding marijuana related businesses guidelines.

June 2014

1st Inaugural Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in Denver.

January 2015

Arcview Group names legal marijuana as the fastest growing industry in the U.S.

The Veterans Equal Access Act (H.R. 667) and Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (H.R. 1014) are introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

March 2015

For the first time ever, pro-cannabis legislation is introduced in the U.S. Senate as S. 683, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2015

April 2015

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduce companion legislation tackling Tax Section 280E: The Small Business Tax Equity Act (H.R. 1855, S.987)

June - July 2015

  • June 2015: 2nd Annual Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in Denver. For the first time ever, Presidential contender Rand Paul hosts a private fundraiser with the cannabis industry at the Summit in Denver. ]
  • July 2015: NCIA’s Executive Director and Co-founder Aaron Smith appears on the cover of Associations Now magazine, the publication for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).
  • July 2015: NCIA hires first established DC Lobbying firms to represent the industry on Capitol Hill.
  • July 2015: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduces Senate version of Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act

October - December 2015

  • October 2015: Democratic presidential contender and Senator Bernie Sanders introduces the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 (S. 2237), becoming the first major-party presidential candidate to support adult-use cannabis
  • December 2015: Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) signs on as a co-sponsor to the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015

November 2016

  • NCIA membership rolls exceed 1,000 businesses. 
  • NCIA launches weekly industry podcast on CannabisRadio: NCIA’s Cannabis Industry Voice

January 2017

NCIA establishes Policy Council to serve as the industry’s “think tank” in DC, developing and publishing policy papers to educate policy makers and other stakeholders on topics relevant to the cannabis industry.

June 2018

  • Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduce the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act (S. 3032) in the U.S. Senate. Reps. David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 6043).
  • NCIA’s Allied Association Program launched with more than a dozen nationwide state, local, or sector-specific associations …

Join the movement

NCIA is leading the cannabis industry's unified and coordinated campaign to ensure our business sector is treated fairly and has the opportunity to reach its full potential. Now - more than ever - is the time to invest in your business and the future of the industry by becoming a member.