Above all else, the National Cannabis Industry Association’s priority is to defend and advance the interests of the responsible cannabis industry in our nation’s capital. Central to our mission, is the belief that our members should be treated fairly under federal law and that the cannabis industry must like any other legitimate business sector in this country.
State-legal cannabis businesses should not pay higher effective tax rates than other businesses or struggle to find bank accounts. And business owners certainly should not face the possibility of arrest and prosecution by federal authorities when they are acting in compliance with state and local laws.
In addition to direct lobbying for changes in the law, NCIA promotes the economic benefits of the cannabis industry to an audience largely unfamiliar with the incredible progress being seen across the country. We make sure that the industry is given the credit it deserves for creating good jobs, generating tax revenue and operating in a manner that best serves its customers, while respecting societal concerns.
Fair Tax Policy
NCIA is leading the charge to ensure that state-sanctioned cannabis businesses will someday be able to take the same tax deductions as any other legitimate businesses. Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits businesses involved in “drug trafficking” from deducting normal business expenses from their gross income. This policy is being unfairly applied to medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries operating legally under state law, resulting in their federal tax burden being significantly higher than that imposed on any other business. This provision threatens the viability of state-licensed cannabis providers, potentially leading to the loss of valuable jobs and tax revenues. As a result of NCIA’s work, legislation addressing this problem is now pending in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. If approved, the Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2017 (S. 777 & H.R. 1810) will exempt state-legal cannabis businesses from Section 280E. NCIA is working with members of Congress to build support for this important legislation on Capitol Hill and in the public arena.
Equal Access to Banking
Nobody benefits when legal cannabis businesses are unable to work with financial institutions. A large number of banks in this country are reluctant or simply not willing to work with entities involved in the sale of cannabis, even when those sales are legal under state law. This is causing major difficulties for thousands of business owners and state tax collection agencies forced to operate on a cash-basis. NCIA is dedicated to finding a solution to this problem by supporting legislation that will give all banks the confidence they need to work with cannabis businesses. NCIA successfully advocated for the introduction of the “SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement) Banking Act,” (S. 1152, H.R. 2215) which provides a safe harbor to financial institutions doing business with state-legal cannabis providers. We are building support for the SAFE Banking Act in both Houses of Congress and are pleased that the House bill currently has more than 90 cosponsors. We are also continuing to work with allies to push for an administrative solution to this problem.
Respecting States’ Rights and Ending Prohibition
NCIA is working to allow states to establish their own systems for regulating cannabis without federal interference. While we are likely a number of years away from the end of federal marijuana prohibition, now is the time to push the conversation forward. NCIA educates lawmakers on the benefits of replacing criminal markets with a regulated industry. .
To that end, NCIA has supported a number of bills in Congress, including the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017” (H.R. 975) and the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2017” (H.R. 1841).
Legal Cultivation of Industrial Hemp
NCIA supports the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (S. 134) and any measure to end the nonsensical ban on hemp cultivation in this country.
Protection for Cannabis Accessory Businesses
NCIA supports the repeal of the federal Drug Paraphernalia statutes and U.S. Customs policies that harm businesses providing safe cannabis consumption accessories. Massive federal actions like 2003’s Operation Pipe Dreams must become a relic of the past. It should be noted that the federal paraphernalia statute already includes a provision exempting activity that is authorized under state law. For more on how U.S. Customs and Border Protection has occasionally ignored that exemption, see “The Little-Known — and Critical — Exemption to Federal Paraphernalia Laws” by NCIA’s Policy Council.
Improving Public Perception
NCIA is working to improve the American public’s perception of cannabis, cannabis consumers, and the industry that serves them. By seizing upon media opportunities in a timely fashion and elevating the voices of our members, we are changing the way the public views cannabis businesses. Educating the public on the value the legal cannabis industry brings to the U.S. economy and society as well as its relative safety and efficacy as a medicine and wellness product is key in our efforts to reform federal law.
Promoting Industry Best Practices
NCIA strongly encourages responsible and socially conscious business practices for the cannabis industry. This includes general guidelines for effective and responsible marketing practices and promoting a culture of community engagement within the industry.