by Michelle Rutter, NCIA’s Government Relations Manager
Last week was arguably the biggest week for cannabis reform in Washington, D.C. — ever.
As we noted last week, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing entitled “Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry.” The hearing allowed members of the Committee to learn about the opportunities the legitimate cannabis industry presents for small businesses in states with legal cannabis, as well as entrepreneurs from traditionally underserved communities. The hearing also discussed the challenges also faced by “ancillary” or “indirect” cannabis businesses.
The Chairwoman of NCIA’s Banking Access Committee, Dana Chaves, testified, as well as representatives from the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), the Veterans Cannabis Coalition (VCC), and The Heritage Foundation. In the testimony NCIA submitted for the record, we wrote, “[SBA] programs were specifically designed to stimulate economic activity and create jobs through small-business enterprises. Offering funding to the emerging regulated cannabis industry, which is mostly comprised of small businesses, would perfectly align with SBA’s primary objective to maintain and strengthen the Nation’s economy.” You can read NCIA’s full testimony here.
In addition to the hearing, there was a resounding, victorious Floor vote that put every single member of the House of Representatives on the record when it comes to cannabis.
Known as the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton amendment, this provision that was added to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act of 2020, passed by a vote of 267-165 and would prevent any federal funds from being used to target state-legal cannabis programs. The vote was decisive: it had support from all but eight Democrats, and picked up 41 ‘Ayes’ from Republicans.
It is unclear whether or not the amendment will be included in Senate appropriations language, however, it will be an uphill battle. But, having the House of Representatives clearly say that adult-use cannabis programs, businesses, and consumers shouldn’t fear the Department of Justice kicking their doors down cannot be underestimated.
So, thank you to the nearly 2,000 NCIA members who made this victory possible by investing in our unparalleled lobbying team in Washington, D.C. Legislation like this doesn’t pass by itself — it’s a direct result of the forward-thinking members who support our work in D.C. We look forward to celebrating many more victories with you!