Social Equity Members Head to D.C. to Lobby for A More Inclusive Industry

by Mike Lomuto, NCIA’s DEI Manager

NCIA is proud to announce that for the first time, thanks to the support of our members, we have awarded nine Lobby Days Equity Scholarships to support our Social Equity members with travel expenses to attend NCIA’s Lobby Days in Washington, D.C., on September 13-14. These Social Equity applicants and operators from around the country are leaders and active contributors to NCIA’s Sector Committees, our DEI Initiatives (particularly policy-related ones), and to advocacy efforts in their local and/or state municipalities. 

Lobby Days provides the opportunity for NCIA members to come together to advocate for the issues most important to small cannabis businesses — from SAFE Banking to federal de-scheduling — and to share their personal stories with national lawmakers. 

Our delegation includes:

Dr. Adrian Adams, Ontogen Botanicals CBD
Ambrose Gardner, Elev8
LaVonne Turner, Puff Couture
Michael Diaz-Rivera, Better Days Delivery
Osbert Orduña, The Cannabis Place
Raina Jackson, Purple Raina
Toni MSN, RN, CYT, Toni 

We asked our DEI delegation why attending Lobby Days was important to them. Here are some of their responses:

“I want our elected officials to hear my story which gives a voice to so many others, who like me, grew up in areas that have disproportionately borne the brunt and weight of cannabis enforcement. Children and young adults, whose only crime was being poor and of color, faced the indignity of being stopped and frisked hundreds of times. Now after paying the ultimate entry price, we can not get in the door of the cannabis industry because of a lack of banking and lending opportunities that continue to shut us out of the cannabis market.

The de-scheduling of cannabis, the passing of SAFE Banking, or the repeal of IRC 280E all would immediately increase the opportunities for small cannabis businesses like mine to have a true opportunity for success, growth, and economic empowerment of our communities.” 

– Osbert Orduña, The Cannabis Place


“As the industry grows and moves towards federal legalization, our elected officials must hear constituents’ voices. It’s important that my energy, face, and voice are present, representing the need for safe banking, health equity, and policies that support federal legalization. As states continue to legalize adult recreational cannabis usage, there will be an increased need for cannabis health equity to address the social, political, and economic conditions in underserved communities.

I’m committed to increasing awareness of the importance of education, employee retention, and community wellness in these communities.”

– Toni MSN, RN, CYT, Founder of Toni
NCIA’s Education Committee & Health Equity Working Group


“I have begun to work on lobbying at a local level. Federal legalization, descheduling, decarceration, social equity, health equity, and safe banking are some of the areas that I would like to learn how to lobby for at the national level.”

– Michael Diaz-Rivera, Owner/Operator, Better Days Delivery


“We should not stop at using the SAFE Banking Act merely to provide legal and regulatory protection for financial institutions. That will enable, but not ensure, increased banking services for minority-owned cannabis and hemp companies.

As the regulatory gaps between state and federal governments are addressed, there must be mechanisms to prevent predatory practices while opening access to capital.”

– Dr. Adrian Adams, Ontogen Botanicals CBD



It is important to the NCIA, and its membership for Main Street Cannabis to continue to develop in as diverse, equitable, and inclusive a manner as we can achieve. As the industry has thus far failed at creating tangible Social Equity, it’s important to ensure our efforts this September to include these voices and the communities they represent. 

This is where the DEI delegation comes in.

As the official DEI delegation, the Lobby Days Equity Scholarship recipients will provide a foundational understanding of matters related to DEI in the industry for all NCIA members present at Lobby Days. The DEI delegation will ensure that there are members present speaking up on matters of DEI from within an important national trade association and within the context of Main Street Cannabis.

NCIA’s Government Relations team has organized a full day of meetings with Lawmakers and their Offices.  New citizen lobbyists will receive online training before the event and are grouped together with experienced industry leaders who can help them find their voice. There will be an opening networking reception for all attendees, and a closing event featuring some of NCIA’s most important allies in Congress.

We are still accepting sponsorships to fully fund Lobby Days Equity Scholarships to ensure our recipients have their travel and lodging expenses covered while in Washington, D.C. Contact for more information.

Let’s keep building a better industry together, as we bring our voices to Washington, D.C.


Video: Main Street Cannabis Heads to Capitol Hill in D.C. in September!

Join us September 13-14, 2022 as we return in person to Washington, D.C. for the first time since 2019 for NCIA’s 10th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days!

This is your chance to unite with other NCIA members to advocate for the issues most important to small cannabis businesses – from SAFE Banking to federal de-scheduling – and to share your personal stories with national lawmakers who need to hear from Main Street Cannabis businesses.

Watch this video to hear from NCIA’s CEO and Co-founder, Aaron Smith, about why you should attend this most impactful and crucial event next month. Not yet a member? Join today and then make your plans to join us in D.C.

Behind Closed Doors: NCIA at CANNRA’s June Conference

The discussion about the future of cannabis legalization is ongoing, to say the least. Recently, Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) held a two-day conference in early June to gather Marijuana government regulators, trade associations, and businesses. The Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) is a national nonpartisan organization of government cannabis regulators that provides policymakers and regulatory agencies with the resources to make informed decisions when considering whether and how to legalize and regulate cannabis.

Representatives from NCIA participated in the conference – NCIA Board Members Khurshid Khoja (Chair Emeritus) and Michael Cooper (Board Secretary), and we caught up with them in this blog interview to better understand the goals and outcomes of the event.

From a bird’s eye view, what was the overall goal of this conference? 

MC:  The conference was an opportunity for regulators from around the nation to hear directly from stakeholders on the current and future challenges that face these markets and different models of regulation to tackle them.  

KK: I’ll add that our own goals, as the current Policy Co-chairs for NCIA, were to better understand the priorities of state and local cannabis regulators across the country, and anticipate future developments in cannabis policy early on, so we could take that back to the NCIA membership and the staff – especially Michelle Rutter Friberg, Mike Correia, and Maddy Grant from our amazing government relations team.

Let’s talk about who was invited to participate in these panel discussions. From cannabis industry associations to those who regulate cannabis, who else was there?

KK: Michael and I each spoke on a panel. The other speakers included reps from federal trade associations, lobbyists, vendors, and ancillary companies who were helping to underwrite the event (along with NCIA). Given that CANNRA is a non-profit that doesn’t receive any funding from their member jurisdictions, and has a single paid full-time staff member, I thought they were still able to obtain a fairly diverse and interesting set of speakers at the end of the day – including NCIA Board and Committee alums Ean Seeb, Steve DeAngelo, Amber Senter and David Vaillencourt (representing the Colorado Governor’s Office, LPP, Supernova Women and ASTM, respectively), as well as folks from Code for America, Americans for Safe Access, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association, U.S. Pharmacopeia, NIDA, the CDC, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, representatives of the pharmaceutical, hemp, tobacco and logistics industries, and public health officials.

Were there any organizations or sectors of the industry that were not in attendance, whether they weren’t invited or just didn’t participate, and why is it important to note the gaps of who was not represented?

MC:  No licensed businesses were invited. Instead, organizations that represent industry members were invited. As a result, we felt it was crucial to inform these discussions with the perspective of the multitude of small and medium-sized businesses otherwise known as Main Street Cannabis that have built this industry and continue to serve as its engine.    

KK: Sadly, we did not have an opportunity to hear from members of the Coalition of Cannabis Regulators of Color. I can’t speak to why that was, but it was unfortunate for us nonetheless. And while we had some public health officials there, I know that CANNRA Executive Director Dr. Schauer would have preferred to see more of them in attendance.

Across the spectrum of policy and regulations and legislative goals, what topics were covered in the panel discussions across the two-day conference?

KK: We covered a ton, given the time we had, including the federal political and policy landscape; interstate commerce; the impact of taxes on the success of the regulated market; social equity and social justice; preventing youth access; regulation of novel, intoxicating and hemp-based cannabinoids; the prospects for uniform state regulations; technological solutions to improve compliance and regulatory oversight; and delivery models.

What information or perspectives did NCIA bring to the panel discussions that were unique from other participants? What does NCIA represent that is different from the other voices at the event?

MC:  There really are a wide variety of perspectives on how best to regulate this industry. We felt it was essential that NCIA give a voice to Main Street Cannabis, the small businesses that so many adult-use consumers and medical patients rely upon. We emphasized, for example, that these are often businesses that cannot simply operate in the red indefinitely, but provide essential diversity (in the background and life experience of operators as well as in product selection and choice). NCIA wants to make sure that the future of cannabis isn’t simply the McDonalds and Burger Kings of cannabis. There are times when consumers want that, but there are also times when they want something unique and different. And it’s crucial that policy not destroy the small and medium-sized, frequently social equity-owned, businesses that provide those choices.

What else was interesting to you about this gathering of minds? Were you surprised by anything, or was there anything you heard that you disagreed with?

MC: There are a ton of different perspectives and approaches to cannabis, and that’s no surprise to anyone who has followed these issues closely because the tensions are very clear in the policy debates that are ongoing. 

As the voice for the industry, we sought to urge an approach grounded in reality. Americans want these products. That’s clear from the ballot box and public polling. The question should be about how to encourage Americans to purchase regulated, tested versions of these products. 

KK: There was definitely stuff we didn’t agree with – some of it from folks that we otherwise largely agree with. For example, our good friend Steve Hawkins of the USCC shocked a few of us in the audience when he seemed to indicate some receptivity to re-scheduling cannabis on an interim basis, rather than moving to de-scheduling immediately. I think that while rescheduling may benefit scientific research and pharmaceutical development, it could ring the death knell for Main Street Cannabis businesses. NCIA has consistently advocated for de-scheduling rather than re-scheduling.

After two days of panels, did anything new come through these discussions, or were any accomplishments achieved?

KK: I think there’s a growing recognition that addressing social equity solely through preferential licensing and business ownership for the few isn’t enough and that the licensing agencies and regulators that execute social equity policies have a very limited (and often underfunded) arsenal to comprehensively redress the harm caused by federal, state and local governments prosecuting the war on drugs. In my remarks, I said it was time for us to start discussing additional forms of targeted reparation and had a number of regulators approach me afterward to continue the discussion. Candidly, I expected my remarks to fall on deaf ears. They didn’t. That was very encouraging.

MC: There was definite progress. At the end of the day, these cannabis regulators are working hard to try to get this right. But in such a new area, and with so many competing perspectives and voices, their job isn’t easy. We were heartened to see the level of engagement from regulators on these points, including follow-ups to get more information on some of the pain points we identified for small and equity businesses in the industry. 

It was definitely rewarding to provide NCIA and our members’ perspectives in a forum like this, and we’re looking forward to continuing to further strengthen NCIA’s relationship with CANNRA and regulators around the country.  

Video: NCIA Today – Thursday, July 28, 2022

NCIA Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. This week Bethany is joined by NCIA CEO Aaron Smith and Deputy Director of Government Relations Michelle Rutter Friberg. Join us every other Thursday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.


Midsummer Movement: The Pre-August Recess Rush in D.C.

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By Michelle Rutter Friberg, NCIA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations

As Congress gets ready to beat the D.C. heat and leave Washington for their annual August recess, there’s at least one thing on their minds: cannabis. 

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) along with Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced their much anticipated Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which is now the Senate’s only pending legislation that would provide comprehensive cannabis policy reforms across the nation.

The landmark bill would remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act and move regulatory responsibility from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other agencies to protect public health and safety. The bill would also institute a federal excise tax of 5-25% on cannabis on top of the already-hefty state taxes imposed on the industry, concerning advocates for small cannabis businesses and equity operators.

The long-awaited CAOA was introduced after sponsors circulated a discussion draft last year. NCIA and other advocacy organizations provided comprehensive feedback to the bill’s authors last year. Notable changes to the legislation include:

  • Increases the permissible THC by dry weight from the current 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent and refines the definition of “hemp,” and consequently “cannabis” by taking into account the total THC in a cannabis product, rather than just delta-9 THC. 
  • Changes to the weight quantity to qualify a person for felony cannabis distribution or possession charge under the section from 10 pounds to 20 pounds. 
  • Provides that a court shall automatically, after a sentencing review, expunge each federal cannabis conviction, vacate any remaining sentence, and resentence the defendant as if this law had been in place prior to the original sentencing. 
  • Enables a noncitizen who has received a deportation order based on a cannabis-related offense to file a motion to reconsider that decision. If the motion to reconsider is filed within 30 days of the removal order, the motion may allow for the cancellation of the deportation order. 
  • Establishes a new 10-year intermediary lending pilot program in which SBA would make direct loans to eligible intermediaries that in turn make small business loans to startups, businesses owned by individuals adversely impacted by the war on drugs, and socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. 
  • Removes the requirement to maintain a bond for any cannabis business that had less than $100,000 in excise tax liability in the prior year and reasonably expects excise tax liability in the current year to be below such amount. 
  • Incorporates rules similar to rules currently applicable to permitted malt beverage producers and wholesalers.

While the historic nature of the CAOA cannot be understated, the bill has a multitude of challenges ahead of it. Not all Senate Democrats support the legislation, making the 60-vote filibuster threshold nearly impossible. Plus, with only a couple dozen legislative days between now and the end of the session, time is also working against advocates. 

Dovetailing with the introduction of the CAOA, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism will hold a hearing titled “Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level: Necessary Steps to Address Past Harms” this Tuesday. While the witness list has not been made public as of publication, expect the hearing to focus on the newly introduced legislation and how it would affect communities most impacted by the war on drugs.

In other news, the House and Senate will vote on a revised research bill, the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act, this week. The bill is expected to pass both chambers and be sent to President Biden’s desk for his signature. The Senate bill is sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) and passed by unanimous consent in March. The House bill is sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andy Harris (R-MD), and passed 343-75 in April. One of the notable areas of compromise? The House bill would have allowed researchers to do their studies on cannabis that’s actually being sold to consumers in dispensaries. That was removed during negotiations, meaning that researchers will still have to obtain their cannabis from the University of Mississippi’s cultivation facility.  

There’s still time before recess begins, so make sure you stay tuned to NCIA’s podcast, social media, and newsletter to stay up-to-date on all the latest from Washington, D.C.! Interested in making more of an impact? Don’t forget to register for our upcoming 10th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days on September 13-14, 2022!


Video: The Voice of Main Street Cannabis

Founded in 2010, NCIA is the oldest, largest, and most effective trade association serving the cannabis industry. Our membership consists of hundreds of small businesses and tens of thousands of cannabis professionals who know that we are stronger and more prosperous when we work together to lift up our entire industry.

As the only national advocate for small cannabis businesses, NCIA works every day to advance policy reforms favorable to the whole industry — not just the wealthiest few.

An Optimistic Congress Aims to Legislate a Bipartisan Cannabis Omnibus Package 

By Sadaf Naushad, NCIA Intern 

As the cannabis industry progresses nationwide, the public demands Congress to pass major cannabis reforms. After months of opposition met among Congress members, a breath of fresh air awaits cannabis advocates, lobbyists, and consumers. 

Last Thursday, two crucial congressmen revealed objectives to establish an extensive package of incremental cannabis proposals. 

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expects to file the final version of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) sometime this summer, lawmakers are using the draft language as a guide to propose an alternative backup bill in creating a cannabis “omnibus” package. 

With the wide-ranging package garnering support across Democratic and Republican lawmakers, industry insiders have high hopes that both chambers could come together to endorse an effective, bipartisan bill by the end of this year. 

Let’s discuss the potential inclusions within the bipartisan cannabis package.  

Recently, a number of Congress members have discussed the possibility of creating a new cannabis bill that would comprise several incremental measures, including provisions focusing on banking, access to medical cannabis for veterans, research expansion, access to SBA programs, drug sentencing reformations, and more. 

Lead sponsor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) is hoping to incorporate protection for financial institutions operating with state-legal cannabis businesses in a potential package. According to Rep. Perlmutter, members also have interest in including Rep. Dave Joyce’s (R-OH) Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act, a bill designed to expunge prior marijuana convictions. Additionally, lawmakers are deliberating over granting cannabis businesses access to SBA loans and services that are obtainable to every other industry, a reform initially advocated by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV). 

These four concerns –- veterans, research, expungements, and banking – constitute a small portion of the package’s considerations. 

Congress will also potentially consider including a non-cannabis item as part of the wider deal, known as the EQUAL Act, which looks to alleviate racial disparities within the criminal justice system by eliminating the federal sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. 

Leader Schumer, however, faces the requirement of having a 60-vote threshold to pass legislation. Although the chamber comprises a slim majority of Democrats with the vast majority of GOP members opposing numerous past bills, the 60-vote requirement may be attainable. In contrast to Schumer’s CAOA, indications are that the incremental package has more broad bipartisan support. 

Though members have not reached an official deal as these major reforms remain under deliberation, Congress members are not abandoning their efforts to push for a broader-based CAOA bill. 

Currently in the bicameral conference committee remains the large-scale manufacturing bill, known as the America COMPETES Act. Leader Schumer has rejected attempts to integrate the SAFE Banking Act as currently written into the COMPETES Act, alleging that it may weaken the ability to approve a slightly larger cannabis reform package. Having passed the House six times, industry insiders feel certain that the Senate will authorize the SAFE Banking Act later this year. 

Altogether, the above-mentioned legislation would come up short in federally descheduling cannabis; however, these provisions may acquire the support necessary to reach U.S. President Biden’s desk.   

CAOA Delays, House Negotiations, and a Cannabis Festival

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By Michelle Rutter Friberg, NCIA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to recover after 4/20, but here in Washington, D.C. the work never ends! 

Over the last few weeks, there have been developments on the timeline for the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), updates on the path forward for SAFE Banking, and a slew of pro-legalization events took place in the D.C. Keep reading for the latest: 

More Delays for the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA)

In February 2021, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) along with Sen. Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced that they would be introducing a comprehensive cannabis bill to deschedule cannabis, enact a regulatory framework for this new industry, and seek to repair some of the harms that the war on drugs has created. In July of that year, the trio released the long-awaited, detailed discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) and asked for comments and feedback from stakeholders (you can read NCIA’s here) to be submitted by September 1, 2021. Since then, the Senators have been diligently reviewing and working on the legislation.

The sponsoring offices had hoped to introduce the CAOA in the beginning part of the year, and more specifically April 2022, however, they recently announced that they are continuing their diligent work and will introduce the bill before August recess.

While this announcement can be frustrating at face value, I’m happy that the Senators are being thoughtful, careful, and considerate about crafting this legislation. Precedent matters a lot on Capitol Hill, so getting it right on the first try (or attempting to!) matters. 

SAFE Banking & the America COMPETES Act

The House of Representatives has passed the SAFE Banking Act three times this Congress; first in April 2021 as a standalone bill by vote of 321-101 and most recently as an amendment to the House’s version of the America COMPETES Act, which is now being negotiated by a bicameral, bipartisan conference committee. 

While many in D.C. had hoped that negotiations would conclude by Memorial Day, lead sponsor Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) recently said that a more realistic timeline for the bill would be the end of summer. This week, the Senate will vote on 28 motions to instruct-  these are procedural, non-binding resolutions that guide the conference committee through the negotiation process. After that, the conference committee can begin meeting

National Cannabis Festival and more!

Founded in 2016, the National Cannabis Festival is an annual event held in Washington, D.C.  with a focus on cannabis and music, advocacy, education, and activism. Now boasting well over 20,000 attendees, NCIA is proud to have been involved with the event since its inaugural year, and I even sit as an advocacy committee chair! 

This year, the festival was back and better than ever with an entire week of events celebrating cannabis advocacy in the nation’s capital, including an incredible Policy Summit featuring members of Congress, advocates, journalists, and more. 

Like I said – the work never ends in D.C., and the NCIA team is gearing up for another busy month filled with Evergreen virtual lobby days, Hill meetings, coalition building, and more! Want to get involved? Consider becoming a member today! 

Video: NCIA Today – Thursday, April 7, 2022

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. Join us every other Thursday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

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(Another) Historic Week In Congress for Cannabis Reform

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By Michelle Rutter Friberg, NCIA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations

Usually, progress is slow in Washington, D.C. However, that has not been the case lately! Within the last week, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed both the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act and the Marijuana Research Act! They passed by a vote of 220-204 and 343-75, respectively. Let’s take a look at the bills and what’s next for them:

The MORE Act

Last week, the MORE Act came to the House floor for the second time in history. It was first voted on in December 2020, when it passed by a margin of 228-164. 

Revisions from the last session include the removal of a provision that would have allowed federal regulators to deny cannabis business licenses to applicants who have prior felony convictions. Other changes from the introduced text this session include revisions to property requirements, allowing operators to secure those locations after receiving a federal license. 

A number of amendments were offered at a Rules Committee hearing to advance the bill, however, only three were ruled in order. The first passed on a roll call vote and was introduced by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), authorizing $10M for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct a study on technologies and methods that law enforcement may use to determine whether a driver is impaired by marijuana. 

Another amendment, introduced by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) directs the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct a study on the impact of legalization to the workplace, using states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis as a guide, and requires NIOSH to develop best practices for employers as companies transition their policies related to cannabis, prioritizing employers engaged in federal infrastructure projects, transportation, public safety, and national security. Additionally, it directs the Department of Education to conduct a study on the impact of legalization on schools and school-aged children, using states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis as a guide, and requires the Department of Education to develop best practices for educators and administrators to protect children from any negative impacts.” It passed on a roll call vote. 

Another amendment, which failed on a roll call vote was offered by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) would have required federal agencies to review security clearance denials going back to 1971 and retroactively make it so cannabis could not be used “as a reason to deny or rescind a security clearance.”

While there is currently no companion bill in the Senate, Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) along with Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Wyden (D-OR) is expected to introduce a comprehensive cannabis reform bill over the next month.

Marijuana Research Act 

More recently, the House also passed the Marijuana Research Act sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andy Harris (R-MD). This bill would remove barriers for researchers seeking to apply and get approved to study cannabis, set clear deadlines for federal agencies to act on their applications, and also make it easier for scientists to modify their research protocols without having to seek federal approval.

Last month, the Senate also unanimously passed a research bill: the Cannabidiol Marihuana Research Expansion Act, sponsored by Sens. Feinstein (D-CA), Grassley (R-IA), and Schatz (D-HI). It remains to be seen whether the two chambers will be able to negotiate a deal on these research provisions to send to President Joe Biden.

Whether it’s cannabis research or descheduling, the NCIA D.C. team continues to increase momentum for reform. Interested in learning more about our efforts in D.C.? Consider becoming an Evergreen member today! 


Member Blog: Cannabis Trends in 2022

by Jennifer Spanos, CannaBusiness ERP

As we approach the end of Q1 2022 and prepare to enter Q2, it’s become clear that this is going to be an important year for the cannabis industry. Cannabis business professionals and investors looking for signs of growth or stagnation in the industry will certainly be interested to see how things unfold. With that in mind, CannaBusiness ERP has put together a list of the top cannabis trends for 2022, and those trends appear to be pointing to more growth. However, it’s clear that difficulties for the cannabis sector are still imminent. 

Cannabis Trends for 2022

It almost goes without saying that the cannabis industry is complex and not without its fair share of challenges as the most highly regulated industry on the market. For businesses looking to grow, keeping up with complicated and evolving regulations can be stressful enough on a business in and of itself. Cannabis cultivators, processors, and consultants can look to cannabis industry trends to inform their operational decisions.

Increased legalization in the United States

Support for legalization in the USA continues to rise. In fact, a 2021 Gallup poll found that 68% of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis. Not only is this a record number of supporters, but this percentage also reflects a growing sentiment among Americans regarding the use of legal cannabis.

The changing tide towards legalization is clear – more states passed legislation to legalize cannabis either medicinally or recreationally in 2021, with several more introducing legalization bills in 2022. Because states operate independently of each other, every state will have its own policies as well as regulatory and compliance requirements, which can make things very confusing for cannabis businesses, especially multi-state operators (MSOs).

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) provides a map with state-by-state policies, which is one helpful tool for businesses looking to capitalize on expansion opportunities made possible as more states legalize cannabis. CannaBusiness ERP’s Guide to Expanding Into New Markets is another great resource for MSOs that provides state-by-state information, including Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania, and useful advice to consider when expanding into new cannabis markets.

Sales will continue to increase in 2022

Leading cannabis business experts are predicting strong sales growth this year due to the growth in legalized markets for cannabis. In fact, legal cannabis sales reached $19.5 billion in 2020, and experts are projecting sales to reach $30 billion in 2022. Washington State alone, which legalized cannabis ten years ago in 2012, is expected to generate $1.5 billion in sales, up from $1.2 billion sales in 2020. But Washington’s projected sales are small when you compare them to California’s projected sales of $7.6 billion. And as more states legalize cannabis, more sales will surely follow. 

Another contributing factor to increased cannabis sales is related to increased demand and a growing number of product types. More consumers are learning why cannabis can be beneficial to them, including more restful sleep, lowering stress, lessening pain symptoms, and recreational use. Additionally, with so many products on the market, cannabis consumers have many options to choose from, ranging from edibles to tinctures to topical ointments and more.

Cannabis experts are predicting a growth in cannabis consumption lounges – the cannabis equivalent of a bar or restaurant that allows consumers to use cannabis on-site. According to the Cannabis Industry Journal, the popularity of these lounges is growing because they provide consumers with a legal and safe space to consume cannabis. Just as with alcohol, the lounges are regulated according to laws set by each state. 

Increasing sales means cannabis businesses are at a critical junction and need to scale operations to meet the growing demand. One way cannabis growers and processors can capitalize on the demand is by streamlining the business end-to-end with cloud-based cannabis business management software. Otherwise known as Cannabis Cloud ERP, it manages production, cultivation, compliance, inventory, financials and traceability, sales, purchasing, and more, all in one system that lives in the Cloud.

Increased legislative bills and pressure for federalization

Under U.S. Federal Law in the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is still considered a Schedule I substance. However, as the number of states legalizing cannabis either recreationally, medicinally or both has increased, so too has broader support for federalization in the U.S. government. In fact, there are several bills in the U.S. congressional houses that may positively impact the cannabis industry, especially with banking challenges.

Due to the Schedule I federal classification of cannabis, many banks will not work with cannabis companies, creating tedious banking hurdles that are difficult to solve. The National Law Review writes, “Yet, in comparison to other industries, legitimate licensed cannabis-related businesses remain hobbled by the difficulties they face in accessing traditional banking and financial services – largely due to the fact that ‘marijuana’ is still considered illegal on the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). Currently, financial institutions (including federally insured banks) are hesitant, and oftentimes unwilling, to work with cannabis-related businesses due to fear of reprisal from federal banking regulators.”

Congressional representatives have introduced a decent amount of bills geared towards making much-needed changes to banking processes for cannabis, such as the SAFE Banking Act of 2021, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2021. It is currently awaiting action in the U.S. Senate with broad support from both sides of the aisle. If it passes both chambers of Congress, the act will allow cannabis companies to have business-critical access to banking and financial services and would reduce their need to operate as cash-only businesses and remove yearly challenges with tax accounting and reconciliation.

In addition to the SAFE Banking Act, there are other bills like U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which is a push for federal cannabis legalization as well as an equity play. If passed, it is a measure towards ensuring small businesses and minority-owned businesses have access to financial services.

However, even with the tide of public opinion and legal momentum shifting in the industry’s favor, there remains a challenge with the U.S. tax code. Due to IRS Code Section 280E, if a business is trafficking certain controlled substances, like cannabis, that business is unable to deduct business expenses on their taxes. California has taken steps to address this by signing bills that help cannabis businesses overcome this code, but this is still a prohibitive factor for cannabis companies across the U.S.

Fortunately, cannabis companies that invest in a comprehensive Cannabis Cloud ERP solution with a reputable and experienced industry partner are better able to handle any hurdles that come their way.

Increased Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activity

Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activity has been steady in the industry and 2022 will see even more M&A activity. According to MJBizDaily’s article, “Marijuana M&A sizzled in 2021 and is poised for a hot 2022. Marijuana merger and acquisition activity proceeded at a torrid pace in 2021 – and could accelerate in 2022 – thanks to lower interest costs and pressure on larger companies to expand their footprints and boost revenue.”

Citing prominent cannabis acquisitions in 2021, such as Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ acquisition of GW Pharma (for $7.2 billion) and Trulieve’s acquisition of Harvest Health (for $2.1 billion), it is apparent that M&A is not going to slow down. According to Business of Cannabis, several deals are already taking place in 2022. Massachusetts-based Curaleaf acquired Arizona-based Bloom Dispensaries for $211 million, adding a total of 13 Arizona dispensaries and 121 dispensaries nationwide to Curaleaf’s portfolio.

For cannabis companies dealing in M&As and becoming Multi-state Operators (MSOs), it is essential to have a comprehensive, full-suite Cannabis Cloud ERP system that can run all the companies in one system. It is a crucial ingredient to manage their M&A transactions and handle their financial statements, compliance, business transactions, and more.

Most important of all, cannabis companies need to choose the right cannabis ERP.

Jennifer Spanos is the VP of Product and Vertical Strategy at CannaBusiness ERP. She has 14+ years of experience in cannabis and food manufacturing software and operations, working to maximize the efficiency and profitability of customers’ businesses.

CannaBusiness ERP: The Right Cannabis Business Management Software. Cannabis companies can grow their business with an ERP solution designed for the cannabis industry and for MSOs expanding into new markets. Learn how CannaBusiness ERP can set businesses on the right path. Manage financials, operations, quality, compliance, traceability, customers and more. 

CannaBusiness ERP is cannabis business management software that is built-in Sage X3 and configured by NexTec industry experts to deliver a complete cannabis business solution. Our specialization in developing solutions for the cannabis cultivation and processing industry has resulted in some of the most respected companies around the world managing their day-to-day operation using CannaBusiness ERP. 

To learn more about the fast-paced movement in cannabis legalization and how Cannabis Cloud ERP software can help your company keep pace, reach out to us. We’d love to show you what CannaBusiness ERP can do for your business. 



Video: NCIA Today – Thursday, March 24, 2022

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff.  Join us every other Thursday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

Committee Blog: Social Equity Perspectives on Interstate Commerce – Part 1

by Mark Slaugh, iComply LLC
NCIA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

As the debate heats up on “how” rather than “if” cannabis legalization will happen, social equity and comprehensive reform are at the forefront of the minds of national legislators and advocates. Historically, people chose to legalize cannabis as a method of legitimizing the illicit cannabis market. Beyond the message that “Black Lives Matter,” the issue of the federal legalization of marijuana means, fundamentally, that the federal government must spearhead meaningful policies in diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice, to balance the scales of injustice during prohibition and early legalization efforts by the States. 

Further, the Biden Administration’s priority of respecting the sovereignty and self-governance of tribal nations means federal trust and treaty responsibilities may finally be met by regularly having meaningful consultations with tribal nations to create federal policy. Thus, the inclusion of tribal nation’s representatives is imperative when creating federal policy to ensure their rights are secure and there is parity amongst states and tribes.

Any descheduling or legalization framework must hold a social equity objective that is clear at the core of its function: To create as much NEW generational wealth for the most number of those disparaged from participating in the legal cannabis industry because of the socioeconomic impacts of more than 80 years of federal marijuana prohibition and due to the barriers to entry created amid state regulatory regimes. 

Sadly, as written currently, all proposed federal bills fail to meet this critical objective.

As soon as the federal government deschedules marijuana, it falls under Congress’ constitutional purview to regulate interstate commerce. Marijuana included. This is likely the ONLY opportunity available for those impacted by the war on marijuana to balance the scales of historic injustice, by providing an opportunity to participate in cannabis business ownership in a meaningful and valuable way. 

If social equity is not adequately addressed in a federal act, it would require a secondary bill to tax and regulate interstate commerce activities. This would waste precious time and open a door to unregulated and taxed activities until congressional consensus and control are established. We have seen mistakes like this lead to disaster already amid state markets who leapt before ensuring a safety net. It also would NOT guarantee that social equity would be addressed in a second bill under new congressional, senate, or executive purview.

More importantly, the projected market cap of the U.S. cannabis industry is projected to be $85B by 2027 and was $18B in 2020. To put that number in perspective today, the largest tobacco company’s market cap is $95.6B – that’s over 5x the market cap of the whole cannabis industry. Similarly, the largest beverage distribution company has a $45.5B market cap – or over $2.5x of the current cannabis industry cap.

Both of these “big businesses” are in the cannabis industry already and they are preparing for federal legalization. The moment cannabis is de-scheduled, it quickly becomes an “extinction event” for social equity unless guardrails are put in place in the first Federal Act to offer social equity a fighting chance. 

To avoid needless delay, to leverage effective taxation and regulation, to protect social equity from rapid market consolidation and control, and to spearhead well-thought-out and innovative ideas to address the inequities of the cannabis industry, the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) presents these considerations to amend any proposed federal act – in order to preserve key concepts central to addressing interstate commerce and the short-falls of previously enacted social equity programs.

The Problems with Current Social Equity Programs 

In analyzing the social equity programs undertaken at municipal and state levels so far, the NCIA’s DEIC has found multiple shortcomings in achieving the goal of generating new generational wealth for as many people who have been systematically discriminated against during the prohibition era of cannabis.

Namely, the following major issues continue to prevail:

  1. Social equity applicants who are unqualified or do not participate meaningfully in the ownership or operation of the cannabis business. This can be because of the following reasons:
    1. A lack of experience or expertise in business skills necessary to operate
    2. A lack of experience or expertise in regulated cannabis operations
    3. Fear of continued persecution and distrust related to trauma from being victimized by the war on drugs.
      1. Based on the fact cannabis arrests have and still disproportionately affected BIPOC community members.

This causes many traditional, large, and privileged Multi-State Cannabis Operators (MSOs), in addition to established market entrants (Tobacco and Alcohol) as well as Special Purpose Acquisition Funds (SPAC’s) – collectively referred to as “mega players” – to decide to “take the wheel and drive” the cannabis licensing process and to put the social equity operator in the proverbial “back seat.” Another issue that remains unaddressed and underlies challenges in successful social equity programs is that:

  1. Social equity operators do not have access to financing to meaningfully contribute to capital or operating expenditures to partnerships with cannabis companies who have capital and expertise. 
    1. This is certainly in large part due to generational prohibition and lack of access in being underprivileged. 
    2. Prohibition also impacts financing which systematically discriminates against the disprivileged; regardless of their interest to participate in the cannabis industry.
    3. These individuals were prohibited from entering the legal market (when barriers were lower) and were initially labeled as “undesirables” because of past criminal history. This gave the cannabis industry and culture away to people who never suffered a day in the war on drugs.

The lack of access to education, experience, and wealth often drives the existing “mega players” who “hold the keys” to expertise and wealth, to justify operating agreements that contain provisions that make the social equity licensee’s position dilutable in the event they cannot meet their operating or fiduciary duties. Which brings up the third underlying problem in social equity programs which is connected to the above factors:

2. Attracting and grooming social equity candidates to qualify for licenses only to then leverage the applicant out of the licenses, is often how “mega players” skirt around social equity provisions. The justification in doing so is due to the above two factors and is justified as “what is best for business” by traditional operators expanding their footprint through social equity licensing. 

In the social equity conversation, these partnership agreements are often referred to as “predatory operating agreements” which refer to the manner in which many “mega player” operators, knowing social equity applicants cannot bring education, experience, or money to the table, systemically target and groom qualified social equity applicants into delusions of wealth participation in cannabis only to obtain a license and then proceed into diluting the social equity partner – rather than educating them, providing them experience, or helping them obtain the wealth to contribute as equals. 

Mega players, multi-licensed cannabis businesses, and vertical cannabis businesses may also engage in “social equity colonialism” in which they create “incubator programs” to educate, train, possibly fund, or partner with social equity entrepreneurs only to have them compete against one another in “pitch competitions” in which the mega player can cherry-pick the most controllable or affordable operator or otherwise leverage them to benefit including using taxpayer funds granted by the state or through discounts on licensing and/or taxes. Too often, the intent is to “tokenize” social equity operators, rather than empower them as equals.

Whether intentional or not, the impact of reducing social equity applicant participation after using them to obtain social equity licensing is a commonplace practice and shortfall of the programs analyzed by the DEIC.

To solve these problems, the DEIC acknowledges that the motivation for those in power to remain in power does not incentivize them to provide a truly equitable partnership simply because a program exists to do so. To address these diluting agreements, we recognize that the Government must play a role in addressing the underlying factors which justify the behavior driving “predatory operating agreements” and “social equity colonialism”.

Indeed, federal legalization and the regulation of interstate commerce with social equity at the forefront may be the last opportunity to address the harms caused by prohibition nationwide and the inequity of governments refusing to address social equity in cannabis. Similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the victims in the war on cannabis cannot depend solely on state and local governments to address social equity. 

Over the next two parts of this series, we will outline a framework of components that may be amended or included in a federal legalization bill to resolve the problems in social equity identified and to provide a comprehensive reform for permitting interstate commerce and addressing the inequity prevalent in the cannabis industry.

Read more in Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog series.

SAFE Banking, Hemp, and SCOTUS Update

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by Michelle Rutter Friberg, NCIA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations

Since I last provided an update from Washington, D.C., not much has changed in terms of cannabis reform. That being said, there are still a few short developments that we’ve been keeping an eye on that we want to bring to your attention! Keep reading to learn the latest:

SAFE Banking

SAFE Banking passed the House for the sixth time in February as part of the America COMPETES Act. More recently, a stakeholder meeting was held with lead champion Congressman Perlmutter that NCIA was proud to have participated in. 

During this stakeholder meeting, Rep. Perlmutter reviewed where the bill is at, the hurdles it must clear in order to pass, and reiterated his commitment to passing the bill before this session is over. Congressman Perlmutter also talked extensively about a recent hearing that the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions held titled “Small Businesses, Big Impact: Ensuring Small and Minority-Owned Businesses Share in the Economic Recovery.” Chaired by Rep. Perlmutter himself, the subcommittee heard testimony from the Minority Cannabis Business Association’s (MCBA) Executive Director, Amber Litteljohn, on the economic barriers federal policy has created within the burgeoning cannabis market.


A few weeks ago, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the results of the 2021 Hemp Acreage and Production Survey in its National Hemp Report. This is a massive, first-ever survey of its kind to be done at the national level, and is set to provide a “benchmark” analysis of the economic impact of the burgeoning newly legal market.

The survey collected data for hemp grown in the open and hemp under protection. Planted area for industrial hemp grown in the open for all utilizations in the United States totaled 54,152 acres. Area harvested for all utilizations totaled 33,480 acres. The value of U.S. hemp production in the open totaled $712 million. The value of production for hemp that was grown under protection in the United States totaled $112 million. Area under protection totaled 15.6 million square feet.


The Supreme Court has officially asked the highest lawyer in the land, the solicitor general, to weigh in on cannabis.

Justices were asked whether or not employees seeking workers’ compensation for medical cannabis after being hurt on the job should receive the assistance, but before they do, they want the broader government to comment. They have requested that the solicitor general submit a brief on the topic. For more details, check out this great piece our friends at Marijuana Moment published.

While this week’s update was another “hodge-podge”, NCIA’s government relations team continues to work hard at passing reform this Congress. We continue to meet with offices to elevate the need for SAFE Banking – primarily for small and minority-owned businesses, discuss the decimation that 280E is wreaking, and highlight opportunities for restorative justice. Interested in becoming more involved with lobbying and our government relations efforts? Contact Stefan at to talk about becoming an Evergreen Member today! 

2022 and Beyond: Lobbying Congress with NCIA Evergreen Members

by Madeline Grant, NCIA’s Government Relations Manager

Founded in 2010, the National Cannabis Industry Association is the oldest and largest trade association representing legal cannabis businesses. Our membership consists of hundreds of forward-thinking businesses and tens-of-thousands of cannabis professionals from coast to coast. That being said, our work and effectiveness in cannabis policy reform continues to be one of the most important duties at NCIA. During the pandemic, NCIA’s government relations team continued to work to support congressional offices through education and conversation. As we continue to be effective on Capitol Hill, our lobbyists work closely with NCIA’s Evergreen roundtable to effectively shape policy reform. 

Due to Evergreen members’ investment in shaping policy for the cannabis industry, we are able to take our Government Relations work to the next level. This month, we will be hosting our first ever Virtual Mini-Lobby Days, taking place the week of January 31. As we continue to represent a value-driven, responsible industry, our main goal is to educate congressional offices on all aspects of cannabis policy reform; social equity, banking, 280E, scientific data, and much more. I want to thank our Evergreen members for supporting our policy agenda.

Let’s take a look at some policy goals in 2022: 

You’ll remember that during the 116th Congress, the SAFE Banking Act became the first cannabis-related bill to be passed by a chamber of Congress. It also became the first piece of cannabis legislation to pass the 117th Congress in April of 2021 by a vote of 321-101. Since last spring, the bill has languished in the Senate due to disagreement over enacting comprehensive versus incremental reform.

This year, expect pressure on the passage of SAFE to increase. While efforts to enact comprehensive reform continues, the votes are simply not there as of now. If you’re interested in learning more about this conundrum, take a look at this piece that the Brookings Institute recently posted.

NCIA is continuing to build support for the SAFE Banking Act in the Senate, but some big news was announced recently that will certainly impact the legislation in the future: longtime champion and lead sponsor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), just announced that he will not be running for re-election next session. Rep. Perlmutter spoke to Colorado Public Radio this month about his decision not to run for reelection this November and his disappointment that, while the House has approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act five times now in some form, the Senate has failed to advance it under both Republican and democratic leadership. The congressman says that he’s going to work to pass his marijuana banking bill before his time on Capitol Hill comes to an end. 

There are numerous bills that have received much attention in terms of descheduling cannabis – among them the MORE Act (H.R. 3617), the States Reform Act (H.R. 5977), and the discussion draft (not formally introduced) of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). Please read my colleague’s blog HERE for more detail. 

As we continue to discuss comprehensive legislation with Capitol Hill offices, our main focus is to continue to be a resource when these offices have questions or concerns. It is imperative that NCIA remains in conversations as language is analyzed and discussed. As we work with NCIA members and our Evergreen roundtable, we continue to relay the burden of federal prohibition and how it impacts our businesses and communities. 

How can you do more as an NCIA member?

There are ways for you to be more active as an NCIA member. For example, you can consider applying to be on one of NCIA’s committees this summer. As a committee member you’ll work alongside other cannabis professionals as thought leaders to develop industry standards. Some of our committees include: Education committee, Retail committee, Hemp committee, State Regulations committee, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee, and many more. 

If you are a larger company looking to make a meaningful investment in NCIA’s government affairs work, there is the opportunity to join our Evergreen Roundtable. For more information or a consultation feel free to email Stay tuned for policy updates from our Government Relations team. 


Video: NCIA Today – January 13, 2022

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. Join us every other Thursday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

2022: A New Year In Cannabis – What To Watch 

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by Michelle Rutter Friberg, Deputy Director of Government Relations

With the start of 2022 also comes the final year of the 117th Congress. Last year was marked with some small victories, although meaningful cannabis reform has yet to be enacted on the federal level this session. While it’s a midterm election year, I have no doubt that we’ll see some significant movement over the coming months. Keep reading to see my answers to some of your FAQ’s for the new Congress:

What’s going on with the SAFE Banking Act?

You’ll remember that during the 116th Congress, the SAFE Banking Act became the first cannabis-related bill to be passed by a chamber of Congress. It also became the first piece of cannabis legislation to pass the 117th Congress in April of 2021 by a vote of 321-101. Since last spring, the bill has languished in the Senate due to disagreement over enacting comprehensive versus incremental reform.

This year, expect pressure on the passage of SAFE to increase. While efforts to enact comprehensive reform continues, the votes are simply not there as of now. If you’re interested in learning more about this conundrum, take a look at this piece that the Brookings Institute recently posted.

NCIA is continuing to build support for the SAFE Banking Act in the Senate, but some big news was announced this week that will certainly impact the legislation in the future: longtime champion and lead sponsor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), just announced that he will not be running for re-election next session.

What’s next for comprehensive cannabis reform? Is legalization on the horizon?

There are numerous bills that have received much attention in terms of descheduling cannabis – among them the MORE Act (H.R. 3617), the States Reform Act (H.R. 5977), and the discussion draft (not formally introduced) of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). 

Back in the 116th Congress, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act became the first piece of comprehensive legislation to pass the House of Representatives by a vote of 228-164. More recently, the MORE Act passed out of the House Judiciary Committee in September 2021 by a vote of 26-15. While this is certainly news to be celebrated, the bill has been referred to another eight committees of jurisdiction and faces a more conservative chamber overall than last session for full passage.

The States Reform Act is a newer piece of legislation that was introduced in the House by freshman Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC). The bill deschedules cannabis, regulates it through ATF/TTB for cannabis products and FDA for medical use, and institutes a 3% federal excise tax on products to fund law enforcement, small business, and veterans mental health initiatives. Many have lauded the pro-business elements of the bill, however, additional provisions must be added to address equity and restorative justice. It’s unlikely that the bill will move this Congress for partisan reasons – particularly during an election year. 

As for the Senate-led CAOA – there are too many unknown elements to make any real predictions! Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY), Finance Committee Chairman Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) outlined their plans for the CAOA in February 2021, unveiled the text in July 2021, with comments due by September 1 (make sure you check out NCIA’s response!). Due to the sheer magnitude of input received, the never-ending pandemic, and other legislative priorities, official language still has not yet been introduced. NCIA continues to work with the sponsoring offices on the CAOA and anticipates introduction in the spring. 

What’s going to happen at the committee level?

If you’re following cannabis policy at the federal level, definitely keep your eyes on what’s happening in various congressional committees. Given that there were few cannabis-related hearings and markups in 2021, I’m hopeful that there will be more this year. I’ll specifically be keeping my eye on both chambers’ appropriations, financial services, tax, and judiciary committees. 

Midterm elections will be here before we know it, but NCIA is continuing to keep the pressure on our elected officials to reform our outdated cannabis laws. Want to learn more about what’s possible? Make sure your company is an active member of NCIA and register for our next webinar, check out our podcast, and hop on over to NCIA Connect to chat with us and learn more about what we’re working on in D.C.!


A Full Plate For Congress – Status Update for SAFE Banking, MORE Act, CAOA, and Veterans

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by Michelle Rutter Friberg, NCIA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the news, but Congress has had a lot on its plate recently: negotiations over infrastructure, the budget, the debt ceiling, reconciliation, not to mention the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic! And while the path to cannabis reform has been slightly overshadowed by some of these larger issues, for the time being, the NCIA team is continuing to work tirelessly and incessantly on your behalf to enact legislation that would help you and your business. Let’s take a look at some of the more recent developments from Washington, D.C: 

SAFE Banking:

Last month, the House passed the language of the SAFE Banking Act for the fifth time via the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). NCIA and our allies on Capitol Hill are always trying to be creative and come up with new, different avenues to advance our policy priorities, and the NDAA was a great opportunity that we were able to take advantage of! NCIA will continue to work with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and other stakeholders to push for the SAFE Banking Act to be included in the final bill language. Stay tuned as the NDAA process unfolds throughout the remainder of autumn.

The MORE Act:

Also last month, the House Judiciary Committee passed the MORE Act out of committee by a vote of 26-15 but the bill still has a long journey ahead of it. It’s unlikely that committees like Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce will waive their jurisdiction again, and it’s critical to remember that the chamber actually became slightly more conservative following the 2020 election. Committee schedules are jam-packed right now, however, we continue to meet with those with jurisdiction over the MORE Act and encourage them to take up this important piece of legislation.


The discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) was unveiled back in July by Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY), Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). In the following month, NCIA worked diligently with our Evergreen Roundtable, board, committees, social equity scholarship members, and others to provide detailed feedback on various topics as requested by the Senators. NCIA continues to be a resource for the Sponsoring Offices and committees of jurisdiction, however, official bill introduction likely won’t happen until early-2022.


Last week, the House Veterans Affairs Committee: Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on a number of bills; among them H.R. 2916, the VA Cannabis Research Act of 2021. While this bill is not a piece of NCIA priority legislation, we applaud the committee, longtime sponsor and ally Congressman Correa (D-CA), and their teams for discussing this important topic. Of note is testimony from Dr. David Carroll, Executive Director at the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). His testimony is only about a page long, but the gist is that the VA does not support this bill. I’d also like to highlight the statement Rep. Correa submitted for the record, which you can find here

Even though Capitol Hill’s bandwidth is stretched, NCIA will continue our work in Washington, D.C. to get these (and other) cannabis provisions enacted into law. Have questions or thoughts? Find me over on NCIA Connect! 

Video: NCIA Today – October 1, 2021

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. Join us every Friday here on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

House Floor Debates, Markups, and Beyond for SAFE Banking and MORE Act

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By Michelle Rutter Friberg, NCIA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations

Usually, things are somewhat slow when it comes to cannabis policy reform in Washington, D.C., but the last week has been quite the whirlwind! In the span of one week, the SAFE Banking Act was included in (and passed via) the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the House Judiciary Committee marked up and subsequently passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act! 

Last week, the House passed the language of the SAFE Banking Act for the fifth time via the must-pass NDAA. NCIA and our allies on Capitol Hill are always trying to be creative and come up with new, different avenues to advance our policy priorities, and the NDAA was a great opportunity that we were able to take advantage of! At first, there were some concerns that the language (proposed as an amendment to the larger package) would not be ruled germane, however, we were able to clear that hurdle in the House Rules Committee, allowing the provision to move forward for Floor debate and a vote. 

The amendment was then debated for a short period of time on the House floor and for the first time ever, passed via voice vote! This is incredibly exciting and reinforces the strong, bipartisan support that this legislation has. 

SAFE’s inclusion in the Senate’s version of the bill is a bit more uncertain. Currently, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (which has jurisdiction over the NDAA) have circulated their draft of the package that differs in many ways from the House’s bill. Here at NCIA, we will be working with Senate allies to determine what’s next for the NDAA in that chamber and collaborating with other stakeholders to ensure that the SAFE Banking language is included and passed into law. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not (nor have I ever been) a defense lobbyist, however, I’m definitely getting a crash course now!

Then, less than 24 hours later, the House Judiciary Committee announced that they would be holding a markup on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. You’ll recall that the MORE Act was marked up in that committee in November 2019 (during the last Congress), and passed by a vote of 24-10. Then, after all of the other relevant committees waived their jurisdiction, the MORE Act was brought to the House Floor in December 2020 and passed 228-164. 

While the MORE Act passed out of the Judiciary Committee this session by a vote of 26-15, the bill still has a long journey ahead of it. It’s unlikely that committees like Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce will waive their jurisdiction again, and it’s critical to remember that the chamber actually became slightly more conservative following the 2020 election. Additionally, there is no companion legislation in the Senate as of publication. 

As always, NCIA will continue to work with our allies and stakeholders on and off Capitol Hill to get these policies enacted into law. Have questions? Find me on NCIA Connect. Want to become more involved with policy at NCIA? Learn more about our new Evergreen Roundtable here.

Video: NCIA Today – September 3, 2021

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. Join us every Friday here on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.



Member Blog: Cannabis Commoditization

by Claudia Della Mora, Black Legend Capital

What would it take for cannabis to become a commodity? To answer this question, we must first understand what a commodity is. Commodities are often raw materials, such as mineral ores, petroleum, sugar, rice, corn, wheat, etc., traded in large quantities, with little restriction, with prices fluctuating based on supply and demand. These commodities are often traded on exchanges to facilitate transactions, as price and availability are the main factors, not product differentiation or branding. Thus, standardization of the commodity and minimum quality standards are essential to commoditization. Currently in the EU and UK, hemp raw materials and finished goods must be compliant with the Novel Food Regime to be sold. To be compliant, manufacturers must apply for Novel Food status which will then be approved by the Food Standards Agency. This is a perfect example of standardization beginning to take place. However, globally, there are ~800 recognized strains of cannabis, although realistically, that number is likely in the thousands. This is in comparison to most commodity markets which usually have less than a dozen different variations. We can break this down into three main sub-sectors: industrial hemp, medical cannabis, and adult-use cannabis, and the challenges to commoditization for each.

Industrial hemp is cultivated primarily for its seeds or fibers to make clothing, paper, biodegradable plastic, building materials, etc. Most CBD extracts also come from industrial hemp, so the hemp farmers can potentially be seen as commodity producers while the buyers, who then use the CBD extracts to produce their differentiated products, are not. However, one major issue is the lack of price stability and transparency for differentiation seen in other commodities. In the United States, prices for high-CBD cannabis biomass declined up to two-thirds in value in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Medical cannabis, which can be over the counter or pharma-grade, has various medical applications, some still yet to be discovered. On the pharma side, GW Pharma has the only cannabis drug that has been approved by the FDA, which treats different types of epilepsy. Cannabis is also being researched for its effectiveness in treating Alzheimer’s, cancer, eating disorders, mental health disorders, seizures, and many more. However, firms focused on medical cannabis often attempt to produce products with specific ratios of THC and CBD through crossbreeding and generating unique terpene profiles. However, for a company to develop pharma-grade products, the product must meet the minimum standards required by its prospective country. These are usually for a particular type of treatment, making commoditization difficult.

Adult-use cannabis has seen tremendous growth and legalization in the past years; however, products differ between producers. While there are thousands of strains of cannabis, even the same strain can vary widely between producers depending on cultivation methods and conditions. Naturally occurring terpenes also allow for differentiation. It can come in a wide range of different potencies, even due to farming techniques, thus making it challenging to produce premium quality cannabis at scale consistently. At the same time, countries are beginning to implement minimum requirements for its products, like the EU and UK’s Novel Food Regime explained above. As countries continue implementing these requirements, the ability to differentiate products will decrease.

As you can see, the most likely to be commoditized would be industrial hemp, as standardization would be a massive obstacle for both recreational and medical cannabis. However, other factors need to be resolved before cannabis can reach commodity status, including price transparency and legalization. There are benchmark prices for commodity products that are easily accessible, and currently, a platform to publish these benchmark prices has not been fully developed yet. Regarding legalization, in the US, cannabis with a THC content over 0.3% remains federally illegal, despite individual states allowing growth, processing, and sale. Multi-state operators cannot transport THC products across state lines, preventing the national distribution of branded products. The problem with interstate commerce would disappear when cannabis becomes federally legal, but it is currently a challenge and simply put, for now, a surplus in California stays in California.

While there are still many hurdles for cannabis to become a commodity, many tailwinds could lead to its successful commoditization. Federal legalization in the U.S. would likely remove restrictions in transactions, allowing for the free trade of cannabis within the country. On a global scale, the real barrier to global trade centers around the United Nations Drug Treaty. In December 2020, the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs transferred cannabis from a Schedule 4 to a Schedule 1 drug. Schedule 1 drugs are still prohibited substances but are seen as having medicinal value. For cannabis to trade freely, the United Nations must move cannabis to a U.N. Schedule II or III drug. This is because countries must be compliant with the 1961 U.N. Convention to import and export cannabis, which requires a narcotic license. Additionally, once regulators such as the FDA come out with specific rules, CBD will begin to act more like a commodity with significant supply and demand. One World Pharma, The Cannabis Mercantile Trading Exchange (CMTREX), Panexchange, and Canxchange have begun developing exchanges for cannabis to trade on, with One World Pharma even beginning to offer limited futures contracts. On the positive side, cannabis has a head start in testing to meet minimum quality standards. Most jurisdictions already require it, although the threshold levels needed to sell the product still vary between locations. The regulations between different countries vary greatly, as countries in South America and places like Canada and Israel are very open to cannabis. However, in others, such as most EU and Asian nations, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding cannabis, which will likely take much longer to gain widespread acceptance. While there are still many hurdles to cross until commoditization, the current Biden administration has shown a willingness to legalize cannabis federally, the first and most crucial step towards cannabis becoming a commodity.

Reference: Grower Talks

Ms. Della Mora is the Co-founder of BLC, a financial advisory and investment firm based in Los Angeles with satellite offices in Houston, New York, London, Hong Kong, and Melbourne. During her tenure at BLC, she successfully invested, assisted in the capitalization, and helped business develop small cap oil companies in Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Colorado, California, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska. She has also structured oil & gas partnerships in several U.S. states, and in Ecuador, Central America. Ms. Della Mora has been involved in many LNG (Liquid to Natural Gas) projects in the U.S., as well as many commodity trades worldwide. She has personally advised also Chinese conglomerates in their U.S. oil & gas investments.

Black Legend Capital is a leading Merger & Acquisition boutique advisory firm based in California with offices worldwide. Black Legend Capital was founded in 2011 by former senior investment bankers from Merrill Lynch and Duff & Phelps. We provide M&A advisory services, structured financing, and valuation services primarily in the cannabis, technology, healthcare, and consumer products industries. Black Legend Capital’s partners have extensive advisory experience in structuring deals across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America.


FDA Punts on Regulating CBD Again

by Morgan Fox, NCIA’s Director of Media Relations

Last week, the hemp and CBD industries took another blow from the Food and Drug Administration when the agency refused to grant a request from prominent CBD producer Charlotte’s Web to regulate the substance as a dietary supplement. This is the latest in a series of delays and setbacks on the part of the FDA when it comes to regulating hemp-derived cannabinoids and products since they became technically legal at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Bloomberg reports: “The company’s bid to sell its full-spectrum hemp extract with CBD as a dietary supplement won’t be considered because of the FDA’s own prior decision to treat CBD as a drug, according to a letter posted on the agency’s website Wednesday. This shouldn’t disrupt the business of Charlotte’s Web or prevent other companies from continuing to sell such products, which already exist in a gray area without the agency’s oversight. The decision shows the agency’s ongoing hesitancy to regulate cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis plants better known as CBD… The FDA’s objection rested in part on its prior approval of Epidiolex, a CBD drug to reduce seizures, which the agency said precludes it from authorizing CBD for dietary purposes. Even if the drug hadn’t been approved, though, the FDA said in the letter to Charlotte’s Web dated July 23 that it “has concerns about the adequacy of safety evidence” that the company submitted.”

You can read the full FDA letter here.

This position is likely to create serious problems for the CBD industry. Without allowing CBD products to be regulated as dietary supplements or food additives, the FDA will be forcing producers to get federal approval for their products under the Investigational New Drug program. This process can often take years and cost applicants millions of dollars.

This casts even more doubt on what the future of the CBD market will look like as producers continue to operate in an uncertain landscape. The legality of CBD combined with the lack of federal regulations has created a lot of opportunities for responsible producers to bring products to market without dealing with the often overly strict state cannabis programs, but it has also opened the door to irresponsible operators who have been accused of actions from making misleading or unsubstantiated health claims to selling mislabeled or adulterated products.

Furthermore, the lack of federal regulations has discouraged many larger retailers from selling CBD or hemp-derived products altogether, drastically limiting the market options for producers. Some industry insiders have theorized that lack of access to those retailers has directly led to some producers desperately searching for ways to unload their excess CBD, including processing it into unregulated Delta 8 THC and flooding the markets in both legal and prohibition states, creating concerns among regulators, lawmakers, licensed cannabis operators, and consumers.

This troubling news follows on the heels of another memo issued by the Farm Credit that suggests that financial institutions that provide financing to hemp businesses should only do so if the company is operating under the auspices of a USDA-approved state hemp program.

“While many states and federally recognized tribes have since submitted those plans, 20 states are still operating under an earlier provision: a hemp pilot program created by the 2014 Farm Bill. That program, which is still valid and would be further extended under pending legislation that has passed the House and is pending in the Senate, requires less federal oversight than the new USDA-approved programs,” Marijuana Moment reports.

Some in the industry are concerned that the memo will lead to lenders dropping their hemp clients operating under the pilot programs, but others have suggested that it will not have a significant impact on the lenders who are already working with hemp businesses given the amount of reporting that they must already complete for the federal government and the lack of federal prosecutions for doing so historically.

It seems pretty clear by this point that the FDA will not move forward with regulating CBD in a timely and reasonable manner without outside pressure. You can add your voice to the chorus calling for sensible CBD regulations by visiting RegulateCBDNow and urging Congress to take action.

Video: NCIA Today – July 23, 2021

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. Join us every Friday here on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

Member Blog: Cannabis Legalization in Mexico

by Claudia Della Mora, Black Legend Capital

While marijuana has been around in Mexico since the 1600s, the real story begins in the 20th century during the Prohibitionist Era. After Mexico news outlets widely reported stories of cannabis users committing violent crimes, a cannabis stigma was created, resulting in Mexico banning the production, sale, and use of cannabis in 1920, followed by a ban of exports in 1927. The movement of cannabis was first regulated by the three U.N. conventions on narcotic drugs, beginning with the Single Convention on Drugs in 1961. The prohibition gave rise to the cartel’s involvement in the illegal cannabis industry in the ’80s, and these cartels have consistently supplied the U.S. market since. After the war on drugs significantly increased violence in Mexico and gave the cartels more power than before, Mexico began to alter its stance. In 2015, the country decriminalized cannabis use, and in 2017, legalized medical cannabis containing less than 1% THC. In 2018, the Mexican Supreme Court deemed the prohibition unconstitutional, and in December 2020, the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs transferred cannabis from a Schedule 4 to a Schedule 1 drug under the Single Convention. As of now, Mexico is on the edge of legalizing recreational cannabis use. This bill, “The New Federal Law on the Regulation of Cannabis,” is awaiting approval by the Senate and then only needs to be signed by the President to be passed into law.

With a population of 130 million and over 10 million regular cannabis users, Mexico will generate $1.2 billion in annual tax revenues while saving $200 million annually in law enforcement and creating thousands of new jobs. One estimate has cannabis legalization bringing up to $5 billion to the economy annually. One issue Mexico will face will be keeping the cartels from transitioning to the legal cannabis market. While those with criminal records can’t obtain any cannabis license, cartels have a deep network, and Mexican officials can’t always determine whether someone is connected to a cartel. Mexico’s legislators believe the cartel will be forced to operate legally over time as they won’t be able to compete in the illegal market and keep as much power as they currently have.

There are also many questions regarding how Mexico’s cannabis legalization will affect the U.S. market. The USMCA, formerly known as NAFTA, currently does not include cannabis, raising the question of whether Mexican producers will be able to import cannabis into the U.S. for a much lower price than the U.S. can produce domestically. However, the U.S. will likely implement trade barriers to protect domestic companies. Currently, the U.S. places trade barriers on tomatoes in Mexico, and many see similar actions being placed on cannabis.

The United States will likely place a trade barrier on cannabis from Mexico to protect domestic companies

There’s no doubt that cannabis legalization in Mexico will create investment opportunities in the U.S. It mostly comes down to whether the U.S. creates trade barriers with Mexico regarding cannabis. If they don’t, the U.S. cultivation and manufacturing sectors will be hurt badly as Mexico can produce much cheaper. The absence of trade barriers will also hurt testing labs as cultivation moves out of the country and uses testing labs in that same country. However, U.S. companies with distribution networks, retail operations, or strong brands will benefit from Mexican legalization through lower costs of goods sold. One solution that would benefit U.S. companies would be legalizing interstate commerce in the U.S. without federally legalizing cannabis. This means other countries wouldn’t export finished products or raw material with THC above 0.3% into the U.S., and the U.S. industry would develop and consolidate. Once the U.S. federally legalizes cannabis, they must create tariffs or some trade barriers against all the developing countries legalizing cannabis, or the U.S. companies will suffer.

Companies are also greatly affected by banking laws. Currently, companies touching the flower in countries where it is not federally legal cannot access regular banking and can’t list publicly on the NASDAQ or NYSE. However, Canadian companies touching the flower can list in the U.S. since it is federally legal in Canada. These laws mean companies operating in Mexico will also be able to list in the U.S publicly. However, the SAFE Banking Act recently passed the House of Representatives in April 2021 and is up for debate in the Senate. Passage of this act would grant banking access to cannabis companies touching the flower and open the door for these companies to list in the U.S publicly. This would create a large flow of money into U.S. cannabis companies and allow them to scale at a much quicker pace than previously available. One important thing to note is that the large U.S. stock exchanges are technically able to accept cannabis companies’ listings if they meet the exchange requirements. However, they don’t accept them to avoid punishment from the federal government. Therefore, as the government moves towards allowing these companies federal banking access, the main question regarding U.S. companies is raised. In absence of government pressure, will these exchanges allow U.S. companies to list and access their own public markets?

The SAFE Banking Act would reduce risk for cannabis companies transacting with only cash

Overall, companies and investors looking to take advantage of the booming cannabis market need to stay up to date on the fast-changing cannabis legalization process in many countries. Those that truly understand it will position themselves to benefit from what is projected to be one of the fastest-growing industries over the next decade.

Ms. Della Mora is the Co-founder of BLC, a financial advisory and investment firm based in Los Angeles with satellite offices in Houston, New York, London, Hong Kong, and Melbourne. During her tenure at BLC, she successfully invested, assisted in the capitalization, and helped business develop small cap oil companies in Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Colorado, California, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska. She has also structured oil & gas partnerships in several U.S. states, and in Ecuador, Central America. Ms. Della Mora has been involved in many LNG (Liquid to Natural Gas) projects in the U.S., as well as many commodity trades worldwide. She has personally advised also Chinese conglomerates in their U.S. oil & gas investments.

Black Legend Capital is a leading Merger & Acquisition boutique advisory firm based in California with offices worldwide. Black Legend Capital was founded in 2011 by former senior investment bankers from Merrill Lynch and Duff & Phelps. We provide M&A advisory services, structured financing, and valuation services primarily in the cannabis, technology, healthcare, and consumer products industries. Black Legend Capital’s partners have extensive advisory experience in structuring deals across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America.


Crazy for Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA)

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By Michelle Rutter Friberg, NCIA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations

Last week was undoubtedly one of the most exciting weeks in federal cannabis policy ever! On July 14, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), unveiled long-awaited draft legislation that would remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances while allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies. Let’s take a look at what we know:

What is it?

You’ll recall that back in February, the trio of Senators announced that they were working on a comprehensive cannabis bill. Since then, NCIA and other advocates have (im)patiently been waiting to see what shape that would take – I was calling it the best-kept secret in Washington! However, at long last, the discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) was released. 

A discussion draft is exactly what it sounds like – prior to introducing this language as formal legislation, the Senators have shared it in this form, allowing stakeholders, the public, and others the opportunity to weigh in and provide their expertise and feedback.

What’s in it?

As I mentioned above, the CAOA removes cannabis from the list of controlled substances, effectively legalizing it at the federal level while still allowing states to set their own policies. According to the bill’s detailed summary, it has a few goals:

“… [it will] Ensure that Americans – especially Black and Brown Americans – no longer have to fear arrest or be barred from public housing or federal financial aid for higher education for using cannabis in states where it’s legal. State-compliant cannabis businesses will finally be treated like other businesses and allowed access to essential financial services, like bank accounts and loans. Medical research will no longer be stifled.”

The bill also includes:

  • Restorative measures for people and communities who were unfairly targeted in the war on drugs. 
  • Automatic expungements for federal non-violent marijuana crimes and allows an individual currently serving time in federal prison for nonviolent marijuana crimes to petition a court for resentencing. 
  • An “Opportunity Trust Fund” funded by federal cannabis tax revenue to reinvest in the communities most impacted by the failed war on drugs, as well as helping to level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color who continue to face barriers of access to the industry. 
  • An end to discrimination in federal public benefits for medical marijuana patients and adult-use consumers. 
  • Respect for state cannabis laws and a path for responsible federal regulation of the cannabis industry. Like with federal regulations on alcohol, under CAOA, states can determine their own cannabis laws, but federal prohibition will no longer be an obstacle. Regulatory responsibility will be moved from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect public health. 
  • A federal tax structure – CAOA would impose an excise tax on cannabis products in a manner similar to the tax imposed on alcohol and tobacco. The general rate of tax would be 10 percent for the year of enactment and the first full calendar year after enactment. The tax rate would increase annually to 15 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent in the following years. 

What’s next?

The discussion draft comment and feedback process will be ongoing until September 1. Until then, NCIA will be working with our board, Policy Council, committees, and our members (particularly our Evergreen members!) to solicit their expert input on some of the areas the Senators have expressed interest in. After that deadline, the Senators will take their time to review submissions and subsequently formally introduce the revised language later this year. Stay tuned via our newsletter, blog, and upcoming events to learn the latest on this and how you can actually submit your thoughts to us! 

Video: NCIA Today – July 16, 2021

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. This week Bethany is joined by NCIA’s GR team in Washington D.C. to discuss the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act discussion draft introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Join us every Friday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live. Registration to our Midwest Cannabis Business Conference in Detroit is now open with special limited-time super early bird pricing on tickets available, head to today.


Senate Opens Doors to Federal Legalization

At long last, the day we’ve been waiting for all year has finally come! Early Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) released the discussion draft language for a comprehensive bill that would effectively make cannabis legal at the federal level while allowing states to continue to determine their own cannabis policies and work to repair the harms caused by prohibition.

While it has yet to be formally introduced in the Senate (stay tuned!), this draft legislation is designed to jumpstart bipartisan negotiations that have been building momentum in Congress since the first states chose to regulate cannabis for adults, and which came to the forefront in the wake of last year’s renewed focus on criminal justice reform and the House passage of the MORE Act at the end of the last congressional session.

You can find a summary of the language here and the full draft here.

NCIA will be carefully reviewing the details of this proposed legislation in the coming days and will be actively eliciting feedback from our members, allies, and especially our Evergreen members, Policy Council, and committees to determine what – if any – changes need to be made before the bill is introduced. Our dedicated in-house government relations team will also be working closely with lawmakers to find an effective path forward for comprehensive cannabis policy reform that helps to undo the disastrous impacts of our current federal laws in the immediate future.

Senate leadership will be taking comments and suggestions until September 1. If you would like to add your input, please contact Deputy Director of Government Relations Michelle Rutter Friberg at

Video: NCIA Today – June 18, 2021

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. Join us every Friday here on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

From Sea To Shining Sea: State Cannabis Policy Update

By Madeline Grant, NCIA’s Government Relations Manager

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve talked a lot about what is happening at the federal level – with the passage of the SAFE Banking in the House of Representative, the reintroduction of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, and the introduction of many bills, we’ve seen the momentum continue to rise in the 117th Congress. So this week, I’m going to go over numerous updates happening at the state level. When we see movement at the state level, this directly correlates to success at the federal level, although not immediate. Think about it… more constituents voting in support of cannabis initiatives and more state legislators speaking in favor of moving cannabis measures means more overall support in the United States. That support at the local and state levels streamlines up to members of Congress at the federal level. So let’s take a look at a few updates in the states.


In Wyoming, lawmakers failed to pass a bill to legalize marijuana this session. However, last week two measures were submitted to the state to place medical cannabis legalization and adult-use decriminalization measures before voters on the 2022 ballot. 


Last week, Governor Ned Lamont (D) said he’ll be upset if the legislature fails to deliver him a bill to legalize marijuana in a special session that is set to take place this week. The Senate approved a legalization proposal in the final days of the regular session last week, but an expected House vote was called off as time ran short in the face of Republican opposition and threats to a filibuster.

Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia

The Sensible Movement Coalition (SMC), an Ohio-based marijuana group, is helping campaigns in West Virginia and South Carolina get cannabis decriminalization on their local ballots this year. SMC has traditionally pushed for reforms within Ohio – and has seen multiple successes in getting decriminalization enacted there – they’re now lending expertise to activist-led campaigns in other traditionally conservative states. 


Marijuana activists are gearing up for a “mass scale” campaign to put medical cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot after the state legislature failed to pass a bill to enact the reform this session. 

Rhode Island

For the first time in Rhode Island, a bill to legalize cannabis for recreational use has advanced in the state. The Judiciary Committee approved a marijuana legalization bill that’s being championed by leadership in the chamber. 

Texas and Louisiana

The governors of Texas and Louisiana on Thursday separately indicated that they will sign marijuana reform bills that have recently been delivered to their desks. 


A vote on a marijuana legalization bill that was scheduled in the House of Representatives was canceled, despite attempts to propose amendments to reach the three-fifths supermajority support. Rep. Edward Osienski (D), who filed the measure, said lawmakers need more time to consider a series of proposed changes before reaching a consensus and moving forward. 


A newly formed progressive coalition that’s being led by two former Democratic congressional candidates, Julie Oliver and Mike Siegel, is aiming to take cannabis and other issues directly to voters by putting reform measures on local ballots across the state. Although Texas legislators made progress this session on some marijuana policy changes, activists were hoping for more. The new coalition, Ground Game Texas, works to engage voters on issues like marijuana reform that are popular among young people and Democrats.

These are just a few of the many updates that are happening state by state. It’s extraordinary to see the momentum building throughout the country with the help of advocates and public support. I implore you to get involved with state initiatives to propel cannabis policy reform forward, as every person has a voice to be heard. To keep updated on what’s happening at the state level please be sure to check out our state policy map that can be found HERE. Additionally, I would love the opportunity to hear from you about the difficulties you face in the cannabis space. If you have the time please feel free to email me at

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