NCIA Welcomes New and Returning Members to Its Board of Directors and Announces Board Officers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the country’s largest cannabis trade association and industry advocacy organization, will be seating its newly-appointed Board of Directors today.
The organization’s Nominating Committee brought on four new board members. Seun Adedeji is the CEO of multi-state cannabis retailer Elev8 Cannabis with operations in Massachusetts and Oregon, and the youngest African-American dispensary owner in the United States. Kimberly Cargile is the CEO of A Therapeutic Alternative, a California-based cannabis retailer, and a long-time advocate for medical cannabis patients. Rebecca Colett is the CEO of Calyxeum, a licensed cannabis cultivation company based in Michigan, and has years of experience in the legal cannabis industry championing minority inclusion, veteran access programs and workforce development. Cody Stross is the CEO of Northern Emeralds, a cannabis cultivator based in Northern California, and has significant experience in many areas of the cannabis industry as well as being a founding member of a cannabis trade association representing businesses in the Emerald Triangle.
Two incumbent Board members were also re-elected for another term: Kris Krane, current vice-chair of NCIA’s Board of Directors, and president and co-founder of 4Front Ventures; and Taylor West, partner at Heart + Mind Media.
“We are pleased to welcome these new and returning Board members for the next term as we enter what is arguably the most exciting time for cannabis policy reform in history,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “With their invaluable contributions and insight, NCIA will be well-positioned to improve the legal and regulatory landscape for the cannabis industry, lead it into new frontiers, and continue to be the most broadly representative proponent of cannabis businesses in the United States.”
The full list of Board members and their bios is available here.
Outgoing members include founding Board members Troy Dayton and Etienne Fontan as well as Aaron Justis and Mark Passerini.
“On behalf of myself and the rest of the NCIA community, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Board members who are relinquishing their positions for their unwavering support of our efforts over the years to end prohibition and help the cannabis industry and its association grow,” said Smith. “We look forward to continuing our work with them in many capacities during this time of unprecedented opportunity.”
The Board also conducted an election to determine the officers for the year at its meeting yesterday. Khurshid Khoja and Kris Krane were re-elected as the Board’s Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. Narbe Alexandrian was re-elected as Treasurer and Chris Jackson was elected to the position of Secretary. Henry Wykowski will continue to serve as the Board’s General Counsel.
House of Representatives Approves Bill to Make Cannabis Legal in Historic Vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, the House of Representatives voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would make cannabis legal at the federal level and work to repair the social and personal harms caused by federal marijuana enforcement. This is the first time since marijuana was made federally illegal that either chamber of Congress has held a floor vote on — or approved — a bill to make the substance legal again.
“The symbolic and historical importance of the MORE Act passing in the House cannot be overstated,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “This vote stands as a rebuke of failed and harmful prohibition policies, and represents a growing understanding of their racially and economically disparate impacts. Americans are increasingly ready to see cannabis legal for adults and sensibly regulated, which they showed through their representatives today and at the ballot box last month.”
A recent Gallup poll showed a record 68% of Americans support making cannabis legal. On Election Day, voters in Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey approved measures to regulate cannabis for adults, while Mississippians overwhelmingly approved a medical cannabis referendum and voters in South Dakota passed both adult use and medical initiatives.
The MORE Act, sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 120 cosponsors, would make cannabis federally legal by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, and would require the expungement of past federal cannabis convictions. The bill would establish a Cannabis Justice Office to administer a program to reinvest resources in the communities that have been most heavily impacted by prohibition, funded by a tax on state-legal cannabis commerce. It would also allow the Small Business Administration to provide loans and grants to cannabis-related businesses and support state and local equity licensing programs, permit doctors within the Veterans Affairs system to recommend medical cannabis to patients in accordance with applicable state laws, and prevent discrimination based on cannabis consumption during immigration proceedings.
On Monday, a series of amendments were announced that included: changing the tax rate from a flat five percent to a graduated tax of between five and eight percent; giving certain federal agencies the ability to ban cannabis consumption by their employees and licensees and allowing federal workers to be drug-tested for cannabis; and allowing federal regulators the option to limit who can receive cannabis business licenses.
“Overall, this bill is a huge step in the right direction,” Smith continued. “We commend the House for supporting this monumental legislation and look forward to working closely with lawmakers to address some possible improvements, as well as help develop a robust, sensible regulatory framework. There is still much work to do, both on Capitol Hill and in the states.”
The Senate version of the MORE Act, sponsored by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and seven cosponsors, is unlikely to be taken up in that chamber during the lame-duck session.
Cannabis is legal for adults in 15 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 36 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
NCIA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Urges Revamp of Illinois Social Equity Licensing Process
Letter sent from committee members to Gov. Pritzker, lawmakers, and regulators calls for more transparency, offers recommendations to maintain legislative intent of program
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee (DEIC) sent a letter to government officials and regulators in Illinois with analyses and recommendations for improving the state’s cannabis dispensary social equity licensing program. When Illinois became the first state to regulate cannabis through its legislature and include a statewide social equity program for the cannabis industry in the legislation, advocates were hopeful that the state would become a model for improved representation. After the initial results of the first social equity dispensary application period were announced, however, the program has received backlash over lack of transparency, failures in the selection process that favor heavily funded multi-state operators, the extremely limited number of companies that were selected for the final lottery, and the ultimate lack of representation achieved.
“In response to the recent results of the Illinois Adult Use Dispensary application process, we present our findings and recommendations in the interest of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Illinois cannabis industry,” the letter reads. “To address disparities in the initial results of the process, we believe we must first acknowledge the process was flawed and that the results do not reflect the intent of lawmakers. While well meaning and intentioned, the results have been widely criticized in their limited ability to be inclusive and to truly generate opportunities for restorative justice and economic empowerment for people most harmed by prohibition.”
It goes on to elaborate on a number of critiques about the program, and suggests several ways to improve the system and ensure legislative intent, including but not limited to: complete transparency of the scoring system, methodology, and actions used by the government’s outside contractor, KPMG, in the application process; closer scrutiny of operating agreements to avoid predatory partnerships; and changing the grading rubric to avoid limiting those eligible for the lottery to applicants with perfect scores.
The full letter and analysis can be read here.
Gov. Pritzker, who has touted Illinois as a leader in cannabis regulation and social equity, has directed the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to reexamine the application process, hear appeals, and rescore applicants before allowing licensing to proceed. In early November, an Illinois court rejected a request for a restraining order filed by the initial finalists to prevent rescoring the other applications.
“We know from lessons learned in other markets like Los Angeles that the process must reflect the intention and not further highlight the systemic structural barriers to entry that favor the monied,” said Yarrow Kubrin, founder of Special Teams Consulting and Folsom Forge and vice-chair of the DEIC. “Further, we as a people expect taxpayer money to include a level of accountability with respect to the state’s actions and services provided to it by outside contractors. If the state doesn’t hold itself and its contractors accountable, how can it expect an entire industry to be accountable? We have waited years for effective state-level social equity programs, and doing it better is not something that should be kicked down the road or merely applied to subsequent application processes. As a verified social equity applicant myself and member of a committee and industry group committed to improving opportunities in cannabis, I add my voice to the growing chorus demanding a better process for the betterment of the industry and society.”
“My grandfather and I worked together to put forth an application we are proud of. With the time, resources, and energy we and many others have invested in this process, all we are asking is to receive a fair chance,” said Grant Richardson, co-founder of the Illinois Cannabis Training Center and member of the DEIC. “The intent for genuine social equity in Illinois is there, but execution fell short in this first year of legalization. I believe Illinois will be the leader of cannabis equity in the US. These recommendations are an expression of the DEIC’s commitment to help us achieve that vision.”
NCIA Publishes Recommendations to Improve Environmental Sustainability
In-depth report analyzes existing problem areas in regulations and business practices, explores current best practices and steps to make cannabis industry an environmental leader
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the largest and most established cannabis trade association in the country, released a detailed report today to help tackle the unique environmental challenges facing businesses involved in regulated cannabis production and sale. The report, entitled Environmental Sustainability in the Cannabis Industry: Impacts, Best Management Practices, and Policy Considerations, was produced by NCIA’s Policy Council with the help of national experts in a variety of fields and covers the following primary issue areas: land use and soil health, water, energy, air quality, waste, and the impacts of the unregulated market.
“The cannabis industry has the opportunity to be a trailblazer in environmental sustainability, but unfortunately it is being held back by lack of knowledge, unnecessary regulations, and onerous financial burdens which encourage the continued existence of unregulated markets and make it difficult for regulated businesses to implement the practices and technology they would like to use,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We hope cannabis businesses and regulators will work together using this report to make our industry the environmentally responsible example for other industries to follow.”
“This fast-growing and highly regulated industry (at the state level) is poised to lead on evolving business challenges, including the adoption of environmentally sound business practices that demonstrate to the broader agriculture sector that comprehensive environmental sustainability is achievable,” the report reads. “Some of the challenges facing the cannabis industry present opportunities to implement environmentally sustainable practices. Companies that focus on sustainable practices reduce their resource dependence and associated costs, positioning them to outperform competitors in the long-term… NCIA suggests that forward-thinking standard-setting bodies, self-regulatory organizations, and government regulators take note and create workable standards with supporting resources to set the cannabis industry apart as a leader in environmental sustainability.”
“A successful, socially responsible cannabis industry will require best practices for environmental sustainability. This paper is a vital first step in that effort,” said Kaitlin Urso, lead author of the report and executive project and engagement manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “In Colorado, we’re always seeking out new strategies for improving the environmental sustainability of our local businesses. This is important, ongoing work that will benefit everyone. NCIA’s paper on environmental sustainability is going to inform how we approach important questions related to the future of the cannabis industry.”
Cannabis is now legal for adults in 15 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 36 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
Newest Gallup Poll Shows Record Support for Making Marijuana Legal
More than ⅔ of Americans favor ending prohibition in annual study released just days after five more states approve medical or adult use ballot initiatives
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The latest annual Gallup poll tracking support for making marijuana legal shows a record level of national support for this policy change. The poll, which Gallup has conducted every year since 1969, shows 68% of Americans are in favor of legalization, a modest increase from last year but indicative of accelerating policy changes as more states regulate cannabis for adult or medical use.
The full poll results can be found here.
“It should come as no surprise that support for making cannabis legal continues to climb as more states regulate the substance and voters are able to see the benefits of legal cannabis markets,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “When more than two thirds of Americans support legalization and now more than one third live in legal states, we are quickly approaching a tipping point for cannabis policy. Federal lawmakers need to listen to their constituents and support sensible comprehensive reforms now.”
Despite the poll showing slightly less than majority support among respondents who identify as Republicans nationally, voters in the conservative states of Mississippi, Montana, and South Dakota approved adult use or medical initiatives by wide margins on Election Day. Voters in Arizona and New Jersey also approved adult use measures on Tuesday in record numbers. The poll shows majority support among all age demographics, though older Americans trail younger age groups in support by significant margins.
Cannabis is now legal for adults in 15 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 36 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
Cannabis Policy Reform Wins Big On Election Night as Five States Approve Ballot Initiatives
Adult use and medical measures passed in every state considering them
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Voters have approved cannabis policy reform measures in five states today, with four passing laws to make cannabis legal and regulated for adults and two approving cannabis for medical purposes. Adult use initiatives were passed in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, with the latter also approving a medical initiative. Mississippi voters supported the more comprehensive of two medical cannabis options.
“During the most divisive election in modern U.S. history, Americans demonstrated unity around at least one issue – cannabis policy reform,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “These state-level victories will mean tens of thousands of fewer arrests and new jobs, much-needed tax revenue, and increased public safety. We look forward to building on this progress as we continue to work with Congress to end the conflict between outdated federal laws and the growing number of states with regulated cannabis markets, and help undo the racially and economically disparate harms caused by prohibition. There is still a lot of work to do, but the wind is at our backs.”
With the passage of the adult use initiatives tonight, nearly 34% of Americans now live in states with laws making cannabis legal and regulated for adults. These four states account for roughly 60,000 marijuana arrests every year, mostly for simple possession. Congressional representation of states where cannabis is legal for adults will increase by 29 representatives and eight senators.
*All vote counts are as of 3:30 a.m. ET*
New Jersey’s Question 1 passed unsurprisingly with 67% of the vote. This initiative was referred to the voters by the legislature. It makes cannabis legal for adults age 21 and older and would require lawmakers to determine a regulatory structure as well as set limits for possession and home cultivation. Cannabis will be subject to the standard state sales tax, currently 6.625%, and the legislature may authorize municipal governments to institute up to an additional 2% in local taxes. This initiative was the most popular cannabis legalization and regulation measure put before voters so far, beating the 2016 initiative in California by roughly 10% as well as surpassing national levels of support.
Voters in South Dakota approved a medical cannabis initiative by 69.2% and a separate adult use initiative by 53.4%. Measure 26 will allow qualified patients to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and would permit home cultivation, with the regulatory structure being determined by the Dept. of Health. Amendment A will legalize possession of up to an ounce for adults age 21 and older and permit them to grow up to three plants if they live in a jurisdiction with no licensed cannabis retailers. Regulations will be determined by the Dept. of Revenue and a 15% sales tax will be applied which will go to schools and the general fund. South Dakota is the first state to approve an adult use initiative or bill without a pre-existing medical cannabis system.
In Arizona, an adult use initiative passed with 59.7% support after voters narrowly defeated an earlier legalization measure in 2016. Proposition 207 will make possession of up to an ounce of cannabis flower and up to five grams of cannabis concentrate legal for adults aged 21 and older, and allows adults to grow up to six plants at home in an enclosed, locked area out of public view. Retail licenses will be limited to no more than one per every 10 pharmacies in the state. The Dept. of Health Services will be required to promote business ownership and industry participation by people from communities that have been most harmed by prohibition, and a portion of cannabis tax revenue will be used to provide resources for a newly-created Justice Reinvestment Fund. A 16% excise tax will be applied to the non-medical market in addition to a transactional privilege tax which is currently 5.6%.
An adult use measure was approved in Montana by 56.9% of voters, along with a companion initiative that allows the legal age for cannabis to be set at 21 and older. Initiative 190 allows adults to possess up to an ounce of cannabis flower and up to eight grams of concentrate, and permits home cultivation of four plants per person or eight per household. The Dept. of Revenue will develop market rules, and only existing medical cannabis businesses will be able to participate in the adult use market for the first 12 months the law is in effect. Sales tax will be set at 20%, with revenue going to environmental conservation, substance abuse services, local governments, and the general fund. Initiative 190 also allows people convicted of behavior made legal by the law to apply for resentencing or expungement.
Mississippi voters overwhelmingly approved an advocate-backed medical cannabis initiative, and supported it over a much more restrictive alternative proposition offered by lawmakers by a significant margin. Initiative 65 will allow qualified patients to purchase or possess up to two and a half ounces every 14 days but does not allow home cultivation. The Dept. of Health is tasked with regulating and licensing production and dispensaries, and may tax sales by no more than the state sales tax rate and only to cover program operating costs.
The estimated value of the combined cannabis markets of the five states that approved initiatives is expected to reach more than $3.1 billion by 2025, according to Arcview Research.
Cannabis will now be legal for adults in 15 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 36 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
State Ballots Initiatives and Federal Elections Could Create Watershed Moment for Cannabis Policy Reform
Voters in five states to decide on adult-use and medical measures; presidential and senate elections likely to influence advocacy efforts
National Cannabis Industry Association available to discuss impacts on legal cannabis markets and federal legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Elections around the country on Tuesday could have significant effects on the prospects for federal marijuana policy reform and the future of legal cannabis markets. Voters will decide on cannabis-related ballot initiatives in five states tomorrow: Arizona (adult use), Mississippi (medical), Montana (adult use), New Jersey (adult use), and South Dakota (medical and adult use).
In addition to the direct impact these initiatives would have on their states, the national Senate and presidential races could have a positive impact on reform efforts at the federal level. The possibility of a switch to Democratic control of the Senate could help facilitate more comprehensive descheduling and restorative justice measures in that chamber, where even incremental legislation has languished under GOP leadership.
The Biden campaign has publicly supported decriminalizing cannabis and has been increasingly vocal on the issue, and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris is currently the lead Senate sponsor of the MORE Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and work to undo the racially and economically disproportionate harms caused by prohibition. The Trump Administration and the Republican National Committee have not released an official position on the issue, although the president has previously voiced support for allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies.
Representatives of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the largest and most established cannabis trade organization in the country, will be available for comment and discussion all day on Tuesday and throughout the week. If you would like to schedule an interview, please contact Media Relations Director Morgan Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (216) 334-9564.
NCIA will be providing regular updates, discussion, and analysis of cannabis-related election results on its social media presences on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It will also be hosting an Election Day Live show on Facebook at 12pm Eastern Time.
“In these uncertain times, one thing is clear – cannabis policy reform continues to gain momentum at every level and in every region of the country,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Regardless of the outcome of the complicated and divisive presidential race, more states are likely to move to end prohibition and that alone will provide a renewed sense of urgency to finally modernize our federal cannabis laws.”
Passage of the adult use initiatives in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota could result in more than 5% of the total U.S. population being added to those currently living in states with regulated adult cannabis markets and up to roughly 60,000 fewer annual arrests, most of which are for simple possession. Congressional representation of states where cannabis is legal for adults could increase by up to 23 Representatives and eight Senators.
The estimated combined value of regulated cannabis markets in the five states considering ballot initiatives on Tuesday is expected to reach more than $3.1 billion by 2025, according to Arcview Research.
Cannabis is legal for adults in eleven states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 34 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
NCIA Urges DEA to Rescind Interim Hemp Rule
Organization submitted comments on proposed rule that oversteps Congress and would create confusion in hemp programs and 2018 Farm Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) submitted comments to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this week in response to a request for comment on an interim final rule (IFR) initially published by the federal agency in August. After considering the rule and hearing widespread concern from its members and the hemp industry at large, NCIA is urging the DEA to immediately rescind this rule.
The trade organization asserts that this rule is in direct conflict with the hemp provisions of the Agricultural Improvement Act (AIA) of 2018, known as the Farm Bill, and circumvents the rulemaking process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Many producers, processors, and analysts have expressed concern that provisions in the rule will make full legal compliance at every stage of production difficult or impossible, putting them at risk of prosecution. The full comments are available here and a summary of the main arguments are below.
“With this rule, the DEA is trying to overstep its bounds and exert control over a legal agricultural commodity that is no longer under its jurisdiction,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Given this agency’s history of doing everything in its power to maintain the criminalization of cannabis in any form, this rule was clearly not proposed to help the thousands of small farmers who are participating in approved hemp programs and could put them in unnecessary danger. Failure to rescind it immediately is a clear violation of congressional intent and established law.”
In summary, the primary purposes of NCIA’s comments are to:
(A) demonstrate that this rulemaking is invalid under the APA because the DEA has gone beyond merely conforming its regulations to the AIA by instead creating new rules that require formal notice and comment;
(B) clarify that Congress explicitly limited DEA’s jurisdiction to non-conforming hemp that exceeds 0.3% Delta-9 THC concentration on a dry weight basis where the producer was shown to have a culpable mental state greater than negligence;
(C) suggest definitions of “synthetic” and “natural” that are consistent with those definitions used by other federal agencies;
(D) recommend that the DEA urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate hemp-derived cannabinoids in the interest of public safety, given that the DEA itself has no authority to regulate products that have been de-scheduled; and
(E) clarify that in passing the AIA, Congress recognized and accounted for a potential conflict between the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and hemp extraction best-practices.
There are currently 69 states, territories, and Native American tribes with hemp programs that have been officially approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
NCIA Submits Additional Hemp Comments to U.S. Department of Agriculture
Agency reopened comment period to gather more information on domestic hemp production after widespread concern about feasibility of interim rules
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week in response to a reopened request for comment on issues related to rules governing domestic hemp production. These comments were produced by NCIA’s Scientific Advisory Committee with input from members of its Hemp, Cannabis Manufacturing, and Facilities Design Committees.
The full comments can be viewed here.
Since hemp became federally legal after passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the USDA has been working to propose rules to provide uniform standards and guidance for state hemp production programs, many of which have caused concern from farmers, processors, and officials who worry they are nearly impossible to reasonably meet and may expose producers to prosecution for non-compliance. The agency requested information on a number of topics, including: measurement of uncertainty for sampling; method of analyzing THC content; disposal and remediation of non-compliant plants (greater than 0.3% THC content); negligence; interstate commerce; harvest windows; hemp seedlings, microgreens, and clones; sampling methodology and agents; and DEA lab registration.
“The interim rules proposed by USDA look like a recipe for disaster,” said Morgan Fox, spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Without a clear understanding of the nuances of the plant and the analytical methods required to determine if a crop meets the definition of legal hemp, and absent a well-defined protocol to deal with variances in testing and other factors, the agency will be setting the stage for a system that no one wants: a market dominated by monied producers, small farmers penalized for factors beyond their control, and tremendous amounts of waste.”
Vermont Passes Legislation to Regulate Cannabis for Adults
Gov. allows S. 54 to become law without signature
Vt. is now 11th state to regulate cannabis, second through its legislature
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the Vermont legislature sent a bill to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott that would regulate cannabis for adults and allow for legal commercial cultivation, processing, testing, and sales. On Wednesday, the governor allowed the bill to become law without his signature, as well as signing separate legislation to ease the expungement process for cannabis convictions.
S. 54 would create a Cannabis Control Board to license and regulate retailers, cultivators, product manufacturers, wholesalers, labs, and integrated licenses. It would give licensing priority to existing medical cannabis providers, women, and people from marginalized communities who have been disproportionately harmed by prohibition. The legislation would also provide education and incentives for small businesses and environmental sustainability plans. Sales are expected to begin in 2022.
“This is a great day for the entire state of Vermont,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Regulating cannabis in the Green Mountain State will create jobs and much-needed tax revenue while finally providing resident cannabis consumers with a safe, reliable, and legal source of cannabis within their own borders.”
In 2018, Vermont became the first state to make possession and limited cultivation of cannabis legal for adults through its legislature. However, the law did not regulate commercial cultivation or sales, facilitating the continuance of an unregulated market within the state and encouraging residents to obtain cannabis in other states.
Cannabis is legal and regulated for adults in neighboring Massachusetts and nearby Maine, as well as in Canada. Lawmakers in New York and New Hampshire are also considering legislation to establish regulated adult markets. Vermont is now the second state to regulate cannabis through its legislature after Illinois did so in 2019.
An economic impact report released in August by Vicente Sederberg, LLP estimates that Vermont will reap tens of millions of dollars annually in adult use cannabis tax revenue.
Cannabis is now legal and regulated for adults in eleven states and the territories of CNMI and Guam. Adult possession and limited home cultivation are legal in the District of Columbia. Thirty-three states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
NCIA Encourages Participation in The Accountability List by Cannaclusive to Promote Fairness and Equity
Largest cannabis trade group in country encourages businesses to participate, share efforts to improve inclusivity and support communities most harmed by prohibition
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to create more opportunities for people of color and members of marginalized communities in cannabis and ancillary industries, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is endorsing The Accountability List (TAL) by Cannaclusive, a leading advocacy and business consulting firm dedicated to improving minority representation in the cannabis industry and as consumers. The Accountability List is a regularly updated resource that allows businesses and organizations to share information regarding their staffing diversity and support for causes related to industry equity and social justice, and examines those efforts in relation to their public statements and commitments.
The Accountability List was launched at the start of a national reckoning on systemic racism early this summer after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers and an outpouring of public support from cannabis-related organizations. It endeavors to follow up on those statements to ensure measurable progress in the industry and highlight those who are actively working to improve upon the status quo. It is curated by Cannaclusive with the help of numerous volunteers and interns. Information may be submitted for inclusion by filling out this survey.
“This list serves as a call to hold ourselves accountable to ensure a diverse and inclusive industry,” said Mary Pryor, co-founder of Cannaclusive, “as well as to be in active solidarity with communities harmed by the drug war as a means to end it and to reverse its impacts.”
“As more and more states regulate cannabis and we get closer to ending federal prohibition, it is increasingly important to make sure that the people who have been most harmed by the war on drugs are not left behind as the industry is taking root,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The Accountability List gives businesses the opportunity to show consumers, the industry, and policymakers what they are actively doing to promote fairness and inclusivity in cannabis and beyond. We encourage everyone in the cannabis space to stand up for justice, be honest about where they can improve, and commit to doing so in the most forthright and transparent ways possible.”
In addition to TAL, NCIA will be promoting the use of InclusiveBase, a database maintained by Cannaclusive and ALMOSTCONSULTING of Black, Indigenous, and people of color owned cannabis businesses.
NCIA is also encouraging anyone who has applied for or received a cannabis business license through an existing state or local social equity program to get involved with its Social Equity Scholarship Program. This scholarship provides one year of complimentary NCIA membership and other benefits to qualifying applicants.
Cannaclusive is a consulting firm created to facilitate fair representation of minority cannabis consumers by celebrating the cultures of this thriving community through curated experiences, groundbreaking insights, thoughtful content and dynamic visuals. We make it easier for brands to communicate with diverse audiences and ensure that minority consumers are not an afterthought, but a valued ally in the fight for legalization and destigmatization.
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization broadly representing cannabis-related businesses at the national level. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and works toward a favorable social, economic, and legal environment for that industry in the United States.
House Approves Appropriations Amendment to Protect State-Legal Cannabis Markets
Provision would prevent federal interference in all legal cannabis programs, including adult use
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After approving legislation to protect state cannabis programs in a voice vote on Thursday afternoon, the House of Representatives reiterated its support with a roll call vote of 254-163 hours later. The bipartisan amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill was introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
The provision would prevent the federal government from using any funds to interfere with state medical or adult-use programs or target individuals and businesses that are in compliance with state cannabis laws. If passed, this spending restriction would remain in effect for the next fiscal year.
“Today’s House vote aligns with the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose federal interference with the successful cannabis programs operating throughout the country,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Now, it’s time for the Senate to do the right thing and ensure this sensible provision makes it into the final budget legislation so that states can continue to forge their own path on marijuana policy without federal intrusion.”
A recent poll by SurveyUSA showed that 76% of Americans think states should be able to enact their own marijuana laws without interference from the federal government, including more than two thirds of Republicans. The annual Gallup poll on the subject from last year showed that nearly two-thirds of respondents support making cannabis legal for adults.
“Passage of this amendment would give state-legal and essential cannabis businesses some temporary peace of mind while Congress works to permanently end federal prohibition and repair the damage it has done to marginalized communities,” continued Smith. “It is clear that there is strong bipartisan support for cannabis policy reform and we will continue working with lawmakers to promote further legislation in this session.”
Last year, this amendment was passed by the House but did not end up in the final budget bill. Since 2014, Congress has approved appropriations language that prevents interference in only state medical cannabis programs, and has included that language in the original budget language for the last two years.
Cannabis is legal for adults in eleven states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
NCIA Offering Complimentary Membership to All Social Equity Business Program Applicants and Licensees
Scholarship program will provide competitive advantages to people most harmed by prohibition
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In order to increase opportunities and representation for people of color and marginalized communities in the cannabis industry, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is launching the Social Equity Scholarship Program which will provide any social equity applicant or license-holder with one year of free membership with NCIA. This program is intended to help level the playing field by providing current and future equity operators with the networking, resources, and educational benefits offered by the nation’s largest and most established cannabis trade organization.
The scholarship application is open now and available here.
“The tragic deaths of George Floyd and so many others at the hands of police have caused a national reckoning about systemic racism and inequality in all facets of life, including the cannabis industry,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “As an organization founded on the principles of justice, fairness, and inclusion, this program is a necessary step for us to better uphold and promote those values. Providing resources to all social equity program applicants and elevating their voices is an important part of the ongoing process to help repair the devastation that prohibition and centuries of institutional racism have inflicted on marginalized communities.”
“This program is one way that NCIA can help empower black and brown communities that were (and are) disproportionately targeted by law enforcement for cannabis offenses. It gives entrepreneurs from those communities tools and resources that can help them overcome some structural impediments to their success, including asymmetries in access to industry information and education,” said Khurshid Khoja, chairperson of NCIA’s board of directors, board member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, and principal at Greenbridge Corporate Counsel. “The cannabis industry as a whole has a moral obligation to recognize the disproportionate burden of criminal cannabis prohibition borne by these communities over decades, and to ensure that the opportunities created by legal markets are available, not just on an equal basis, but on an equitable one.”
“Social equity businesses deserve representation in the cannabis industry, and within NCIA is no different,” said Amber Senter, co-founder of Supernova Women and chairperson of NCIA’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee (DEIC). “Offering free memberships to businesses that represent a segment of people that have been harmed by the war on drugs is a step in the right direction of inclusion.”
“In order for the cannabis industry to effectively encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion, we must work to build an infrastructure that prioritizes and reflects the needs of the individuals and businesses that have barriers to access so that they may truly participate as equitable partners,” said Chris Jackson, a member of NCIA’s board of directors and the government relations and social equity lead for Sticky, a Michigan-based cannabis retailer. “With this initiative, we are closer to amplifying that mission as an industry leader that should be replicated and championed. There is plenty more work to be done and initiatives like these will help provide equitable opportunities and remove barriers that shouldn’t exist to begin with.”
“The DEIC has initiatives lined up for the coming term year, our second in existence, to create greater representation and participation on NCIA’s platforms,” said Mike Lomuto, DEIC member and managing partner at Dao Mastery consulting group. “I’m hopeful that removing the barrier of membership fees will be the first step of many in creating the impact in the industry we’d like to see.”
The scholarship program provides one year of regular membership and other benefits, and is available to anyone who is applying for a cannabis business license through a state or local social equity program or who has already obtained an equity license. This is a permanent offer available to any new equity applicants in perpetuity.
NCIA is also endorsing House Resolution 988, which was introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and condemns all forms of police brutality and systemic oppression linked to the war on drugs and other policies. It is actively supporting federal legislative reforms, particularly to increase banking access for small businesses and deschedule cannabis in ways that help repair the racially and economically disproportionate damage caused by prohibition.
National Cannabis Industry Association Files Amicus Brief in Landmark Cannabis Tax Case
National trade organization presents substantive and Constitutional arguments against IRS 280E tax code preventing state-legal cannabis businesses from deducting normal business expenses
Harborside Health Center is appealing U.S. Tax Court decision over exorbitant federal tax bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) filed an amicus brief this week in support of one of the oldest and most well-respected cannabis businesses in the country. The case, Harborside Health Center v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, challenges the applicability of Internal Revenue Code 280E to state-legal regulated cannabis businesses. This provision of the federal tax code prevents the legal cannabis industry from taking the standard business deductions enjoyed by other industries, resulting in effective federal tax rates of up to 75% and impeding the operation of legal cannabis markets.
The brief was crafted and filed on behalf of NCIA by Charles Sipos, Lauren Staniar, Tre Holloway, and Barak Cohen at the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP. Mr. Cohen is the chair of the firm’s cannabis practice. The brief can be viewed in its entirety here.
“Section 280E is a decades-old provision of the tax code, passed during the height of the Reagan administration’s ‘war on drugs,’ intended to punish criminal drug operators by stripping their ability to claim deductions on their tax returns. So, while ordinary businesses can deduct expenses such as rent, wages, taxes, and license payments, under § 280E lawful state marijuana dispensaries are taxed by the IRS on revenue before accounting for those expenses…. The tax burden lawful marijuana operators suffer through the IRS’s imposition of 280E is so severe, that many commentators identify punitive taxation under 280E as the single biggest threat to the industry,” the brief reads. “Given the harsh effects of 280E, it then comes as no surprise that as applied to lawful marijuana businesses in California and elsewhere, the statute offends Constitutional restraints intended to prevent the U.S. Government from abusing its taxing powers.”
This case originated in 2016 when Oakland, California-based Harborside sued the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to allow themselves and other regulated cannabis businesses to take normal business deductions in their tax filings. In 2018, the U.S. Tax Court ruled against the company, resulting in a bill for $11 million in federal back taxes. Harborside has appealed the ruling in the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The amicus filed by NCIA focuses on six primary arguments: legal cannabis markets yield substantial public health and economic benefits; unregulated cannabis markets create public health issues and impose economic costs; the IRS uses 280E to punish the regulated cannabis industry despite federal law enforcement policy not to punish cannabis businesses in compliance with state laws; punitive taxation of regulated businesses bolsters the illegal cannabis market; 280E violates the Sixteenth Amendment because it taxes more than income; and it violates the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause.
“Harborside is not asking for special treatment. In fact, they are only asking that the IRS treat them like any other small businesses that are routinely permitted to take tax deductions on ordinary business expenses, like payroll,” said Aaron Smith, NCIA’s Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that it is unconstitutional to levy a federal tax without allowing subtractions for indirect costs and deductions for necessary expenses, just like in every other commercial context. The cannabis industry was deemed ‘essential’ in most states during the pandemic and has been one of the few industries creating jobs and generating tax revenue during this difficult time. The federal government should be doing everything possible to support this vital industry, rather than hindering it.”
Cannabis is legal for adults in eleven states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
Cannabis Banking Reform Included in Latest COVID-19 Relief Legislation Being Considered in the House
House adds SAFE Banking Act and improved loan access to HEROES Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi unveiled the newest bill to provide the next stage of coronavirus relief funding and included language that would improve access to banking services and loans for the regulated cannabis industry. The banking language is identical to the House-approved Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act and would make it easier for financial institutions to work with cannabis businesses that are in compliance with state law, as well as help address serious public health and safety concerns caused by operating in predominantly cash-only environments. The relief bill, known as the HEROES Act, also includes language preventing applicants for Small Business Administration loans from being disqualified based solely on a criminal conviction.
The full relief legislation is available here, with banking language starting on page 1066.
The HEROES Act will now be taken up by the rest of the House before a floor vote. If passed, it will go to the Senate for consideration.
“On behalf of the legal cannabis industry, we commend the congressional leadership for prioritizing public health and safety by including sensible cannabis banking policy in this legislation,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “Our industry employs hundreds of thousands of Americans and has been deemed ‘essential’ in most states. It’s critically important that essential cannabis workers are not exposed to unnecessary health risks due to outdated federal banking regulations.”
Last week, NCIA joined other cannabis advocacy and industry organizations in urging Congress to include the SAFE Banking Act in the next round of relief funding, citing the ability of cash to carry contagions and the personal proximity required by cash transactions as reasons for urgency in addition to the other safety and transparency concerns addressed by the legislation.
In September, an overwhelming bipartisan majority approved the SAFE Banking Act in the House, but the bill has been delayed pending a markup in the Senate Banking Committee.
National Cannabis Industry Association Calls for Removal of DEA from Research Approval Process
Group cites poor record and long delays, recommends health agencies control research and production applications
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) submitted comments this week in response to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Request for Information on Controls to Enhance the Cultivation of Marihuana for Research in the United States issued in March. The association argues that public health agencies are far better suited to determine the qualifications of parties engaged in medical or scientific research or production and recommends that the DEA be removed as the agency in charge of final approval for such applications. The comments also cite years-long delays in approving existing applications as additional justification for transferring control of application approval away from law enforcement, and point out several issues in the rule-making process that will likely hinder research.
The full comments are available here.
Despite publicly stating in 2016 that it was interested in expanding production of cannabis for research purposes and streamlining study application review, none of the more than 30 applications that have been submitted since then have been approved by DEA. Under current policy, there is only one legal federal supplier of cannabis located at the University of Mississippi. Researchers and experts have repeatedly claimed that the cannabis produced there is substandard, insufficient for research purposes, and not representative of what is available to consumers in either regulated or illicit markets around the country.
“It is painfully clear that the DEA is either unable or unwilling to meet the increasing demand for cannabis research from voters, policymakers, and the scientific community,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “By continuing to make this agency the gatekeeper for studies and research production, we are doing a disservice to the nation at a time when we need as much health-related information as possible. Federal agencies should be actively facilitating research that could reveal more about the medical benefits of cannabis, not hiding behind outdated policies to delay or discourage the pursuit of knowledge.”
In January, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing featuring representatives of federal agencies involved in approving cannabis research and production, including the DEA. Several members of the committee expressed frustration at the inability of witnesses to provide substantive information about how the process would be improved or timelines for approval of existing applications.
“On behalf of its nearly 2,000 members, NCIA hereby requests that these proposed regulations be amended and/or withdrawn… and that a qualified public health agency be appointed to serve as the coordinating agency instead,” the comments conclude. “We also request that the applicant pool be expanded to include companies that are or have cultivated cannabis in accordance with the laws of any state, regardless of whether the DEA concludes such actions did or did not technically violate the [Controlled Substance Act]. Most importantly, NCIA requests that the U.S. Government incentivize research and create a pathway for less restrictive means by which the country can access important information about the medicinal properties of cannabis.”
Cannabis is legal for adults in eleven states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
Cannabis Policy Advocates Urge Congress to Include Banking Reform in Next Coronavirus Relief Legislation
Lack of banking access hinders social distancing efforts, increases risk of contagion, creates unnecessary financial hardship and other safety risks for essential businesses and patients
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of cannabis advocacy and industry organizations sent a letter to Congress today urging lawmakers to include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act or similar language in the next pandemic relief package which would create a safe harbor for banks and other financial services providers to work with cannabis and ancillary businesses that are in compliance with state law. The letter cites the ability of cash to carry contagions and the personal proximity required by cash transactions as reasons for urgency in correcting the lack of banking access in the cannabis industry, beyond the pre-existing safety and transparency concerns addressed by this legislation. It was signed by Americans for Safe Access, Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce, Marijuana Policy Project, Minority Cannabis Business Association, National Association of Cannabis Businesses, National Cannabis Industry Association, National Cannabis Roundtable, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Policy Center for Public Health and Safety, and Safe and Responsible Banking Alliance.
“Collectively, we represent consumers, patients, and thousands of state-regulated and ancillary cannabis businesses,” the letter reads. “This industry, composed primarily of small to medium-sized businesses, continues to provide safe cannabis medicine to more than 3 million medical cannabis patients in the United States. Despite the essential designation in most states, these essential businesses lack access to the financial services necessary to optimize social distancing measures to ensure the safety of medical cannabis patients, workers, and the public.”
Due to current federal laws and financial regulations, most banks are unwilling to take the risk of prosecution or sanction to work with state-legal cannabis businesses and often ancillary businesses that service the cannabis industry. This forces many businesses in this space to operate almost entirely in cash, creating public health and safety issues that have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. These policies hinder the efforts of regulators and law enforcement to effectively monitor the legal cannabis market, and severely limit access to capital for small businesses that are increasingly in need of assistance. Business owners are also becoming more concerned that the presence of cash on their premises will make them larger targets for crime as unemployment rises throughout the nation.
“Locking legal businesses out of traditional banking services—leaving them with no option but to operate exclusively in cash—has long put workers in danger,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, the lead Senate sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act. “And now in the face of this pandemic, it’s making it increasingly difficult for these businesses to keep their workers and customers safe while they fight to stay afloat. The SAFE Banking Act is more important than ever to these businesses and the families who rely on them, and I’m committed to doing everything I can to get it passed.”
The SAFE Banking Act would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis- and hemp-related businesses that are obeying state laws. The bill would protect ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry from being charged with money laundering and other financial crimes, and requires the Financial Institution Examination Council to develop guidance to help credit unions and banks understand how to lawfully serve cannabis businesses.
“Cannabis businesses and their employees already face a significant public safety risk without access to the banking system, and the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated this risk with these essential businesses having to move their cash-only transactions outside the store,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter, lead House sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act. “At the same time, many of these businesses are facing disruptions in their supply chain and in normal operations and they should be eligible for relief just like any other legal, legitimate business during this pandemic. I will continue to push for inclusion of the SAFE Banking Act or other forms of relief for this industry in the next package.”
“The lack of access to banking also prevents legitimate cannabis-related businesses from obtaining emergency relief or securing bank loans to continue providing safe medicine and jobs to their communities,” the letter continues. “Despite essential designations, many cannabis businesses will struggle to remain operational without access to traditional banking products and services… If businesses cannot access the resources to remain operational, patients would be forced into the illicit market of unregulated medicine and transactions.”
In September, the House passed the SAFE Banking Act in a bipartisan vote of 321-103, making it the first piece of stand-alone cannabis policy reform legislation to ever receive a vote or be approved by either chamber of Congress. Companion legislation is currently being considered in the Senate and is awaiting a markup in the Senate Banking Committee.
Cannabis is legal for adults in eleven states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states. Every state with a functional regulated cannabis market has allowed continued access during the coronavirus response.
House Bill Introduced to Make Cannabis Businesses Eligible for COVID-19 Relief Funds
Widespread recognition of necessity for regulated cannabis providers spurs calls for equal access to federal assistance
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation to give legal marijuana businesses, which have been declared essential in a majority of states with regulated cannabis markets, access to resources being made available by congressional COVID-19 emergency response packages was introduced in the House today by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO). The Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act would stop cannabis businesses and those that provide services to them from being excluded from further federal relief funding provided through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
The full text of the bill is available here.
“The cannabis industry employs nearly a quarter of a million Americans and has been deemed essential in state after state, yet many businesses will not survive the pandemic without help,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “They already face disproportionate financial burdens during normal conditions, and the strains created by the coronavirus response are putting them at an even greater disadvantage and jeopardizing their ability to provide vital healthcare services. We are incredibly grateful for the dozens of lawmakers who are urging their colleagues to give cannabis businesses fair access to federal relief funds in these difficult times.”
Under current policy, businesses that deal directly with cannabis production and sale, as well as many that provide services to them, are ineligible for any SBA programs. Many indirect businesses have not been declared essential and have been forced to close. Cannabis businesses that have remained open must contend with declining sales, supply chain disruptions, onerous tax rates, lack of access to banking services, and the costs incurred by implementing additional health and safety measures to protect employees and customers.
Last week, Rep. Blumenauer and nearly three dozen of his colleagues sent a letter to House leadership urging them to make cannabis businesses eligible for SBA programs. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) along with eight co-signers sent a similar letter to Senate leadership on Wednesday. They have been joined by cannabis industry advocates, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, state officials including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, and others.
Cannabis is legal for adults in eleven states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. Every state with a functional regulated cannabis market is allowing continued legal access in some form during the ongoing pandemic restrictions.
House Committee Approves Veterans Affairs Medical Cannabis Bills
Legislation to promote research, protect veteran medical cannabis patients, and allow VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis will proceed to a House floor vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Committee on Veterans Affairs approved two bills on Thursday that would loosen restrictions on medical cannabis research and use by veterans. The VA Medical Cannabis Research Act as amended by the committee would require the VA to conduct clinical studies on the medical benefits of cannabis for veterans, and would protect people participating in state medical cannabis programs from losing benefits and services through the VA system. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) and currently has 105 cosponsors, was approved in a voice vote.
Next, the committee approved the Veterans Equal Access Act in a vote of 15-11. This bill would allow physicians and other healthcare professionals in the VA system to discuss medical cannabis with patients and provide recommendations in accordance with applicable state laws. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and currently has 18 cosponsors.
Both bills will now head to the full House for a floor vote.
“We commend our friends Rep. Correa and Rep. Blumenauer for working so hard to get these bills to a House vote, and we want to thank Chairman Takano for allowing this committee markup,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Our distinguished service-people have waited far too long for the ability to use the medicine that works for them without fear of punishment, and the VA can benefit tremendously from the knowledge that will come from mandating the research that it has avoided or ignored up to this point.”
“It is heartening to see that Congress is still pursuing cannabis policy reform and looking out for vulnerable groups like veterans despite being occupied with another serious public health issue,” Smith continued.
Cannabis is legal for adults in eleven states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
National Cannabis Industry Association Announces New Members of Board of Directors
Newly-appointed members and several incumbents will replace long-serving members for 2020-2022 term
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the country’s largest cannabis trade association and industry advocacy organization, will be seating its newly-appointed board of directors this month at the Northeast Cannabis Business Conference in Boston.
The organization’s Nominating Committee brought on five new board members. Narbe Alexandrian is the president and CEO of Canopy Rivers, a major investment and operating platform structured to pursue opportunities in the cannabis sector. Omar Figueroa, principal of Law Offices of Omar Figueroa, Inc., is a long-time cannabis activist and attorney representing cannabis-related businesses throughout California. Liz Geisleman is the vice president of Rocky Mountain Reagents, Inc., which has provided biological and chemical product solutions to a wide variety of industries for over 50 years. Ryan Hurley is general counsel for Copperstate Farms, one of the largest licensed medical cannabis cultivators in the country. Chris Jackson is the co-founder of Indica LLC and Sticky Ypsi, a cannabis provider based in Michigan.
Three incumbent board members were also re-elected for another term: Cody Bass, founder and executive director of Tahoe Wellness Center; Khurshid Khoja, current board vice-chair and principal of Greenbridge Corporate Counsel; and Manndie Tingler, co-founder and CRO of Khemia Manufacturing and business development officer for Natura.
The full list of board members and their bios is available here.
Outgoing board members include current Board Chair A.C. Braddock, Jessica Billingsley, Alex Cooley, Steve DeAngelo, Sean McAllister, and Erich Pearson.
“It has been a pleasure to lead NCIA’s board at such a revolutionary time in the emerging cannabis industry,” said A.C. Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs. “We have taken great strides in terms of acceptance and legitimacy in the last few years, and this momentum will only continue as we get closer to ending prohibition through education and political unity. I look forward to continuing my involvement with NCIA in other capacities to build an industry based on the science of this plant to promote health and wellness and to support mission driven business.”
“I’m deeply grateful to the NCIA for electing me to the board since the founding of our organization almost ten years ago, and am proud to have been a part of growing NCIA into the powerhouse it has become,” said Steve DeAngelo, founder of Harborside, Inc. “Together we have alleviated untold suffering, saved countless lives, and changed the world. I can’t wait to see what the next decade will bring!”
“Being an NCIA board member has been one of the most enjoyable parts of my life and career,” said Alex Cooley, co-founder of Solstice. “I have deeply enjoyed working with the board and staff over the past several years to change the face of cannabis in the U.S. and ultimately the world. This is by no means goodbye, as I look forward to continuing my participation with NCIA in the coming years and especially look forward to attending our 10th Annual Lobby Days in Washington, D.C. this May.”
“Having a trade association with the knowledge, experience, and ability to represent cannabis businesses on the national stage is absolutely vital to the long-term success of this industry, and we are in good hands with NCIA,” said Sean McAllister, co-founder of McAllister Garfield, P.C. “I’m happy to have been a part of this important work, and excited to see the progress we have made in recent years – and will make in the future – with this organization looking out for the interests of its members and the cannabis industry as a whole.”
“It’s been a pleasure to serve on NCIA’s board for the past several years. I am proud of the work we’ve done to move cannabis policy forward around the country,” said Jessica Billingsley, CEO of Akerna. “I’m confident the organization will continue to lead the cannabis industry in the right direction and help businesses of all kinds and sizes flourish as we enter a new era of growth and legitimacy.”
“NCIA is leading the way in providing advocacy and resources for the cannabis industry and protecting the interests of the businesses that are involved in it,” said Erich Pearson, CEO of SPARC. “I am glad to have been able to contribute to its efforts as a member of the board and will continue to support its work as we fight to end prohibition and make the cannabis industry an example for others to follow.”
The first board meeting with new and incumbent members is slated to take place later this month.
NCIA Releases Extensive Report on Vaping Illness and Related Policy
Report contains detailed information on proximate causes and provides recommendations for displacing the illicit market and minimizing potential for future public health issues
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to an outbreak of respiratory illnesses primarily associated with unregulated cannabis vape cartridges found in the illicit market in recent months, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) Policy Council, with the help of experts in several fields, has produced an extensive report that explores the known and potential causes of the condition and offers ways for producers, regulators, and lawmakers to prevent such issues from occurring in the legal regulated market. NCIA is also sharing this report with key congressional committees.
The report – titled “The Key to Consumer Safety: Displacing the Illicit Cannabis Market – Recommendations for Safe Vaping” – discusses topics such as vaporizer liquid formulations, vaporizer delivery devices, possible contaminants, and best practices for testing. It also recommends ways to displace the illicit market and make sure that unregulated products don’t find their way into the legal market, including decreasing the financial burdens that prevent legal providers from being competitive with the illicit market, methods for identifying counterfeit products, creating more accessible pathways for unlicensed operators to enter the regulated market, and increasing non-criminal enforcement against illegal cultivation sites.
“The cannabis industry has a serious and disruptive illicit market problem that is directly affecting public health and safety. While the Center for Disease Control has not yet definitively determined the proximate cause for every injury or death, the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence points to additives in illicit market products,” the report states. “NCIA’s Policy Council urges consumers to only purchase regulated and tested cannabis products from the state-legal market. Reliable vaping products manufactured using suitable vaporizer hardware and liquid formulations created from high quality ingredients are common in the legal cannabis market. The same cannot be said for the unregulated market. We must stop the flow of illicit, unregulated, and untested products to consumers… We also need to lower taxes, so that the legal market can fairly compete with the illicit market. This effort will take a collaborative approach, with law enforcement, state-legal cannabis businesses, and state cannabis taxing and licensing authorities working in concert.”
Earlier this month, the CDC ended its “state of emergency” regarding this illness, known as EVALI, as the number of new cases being reported has sharply declined. While discussing the sources for the products linked to specific cases, the agency inaccurately grouped regulated cannabis businesses with completely unregulated businesses such as illegal pop-ups and unlicensed storefronts as the sources for 16% of the cannabis products associated with EVALI cases. This is despite the fact that only a handful of cases have been associated with licensed businesses, which are greatly outnumbered by unlicensed stores in California.
Cannabis is legal for adults in eleven states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states. Dozens of states are set to consider cannabis-related legislation or ballot initiatives this year.
Cannabis Industry Groups Urge Chairman of Senate Banking Committee to Advance House-Approved Cannabis Banking Bill
More than 30 organizations co-sign a letter to Sen. Mike Crapo, underscoring their support for the SAFE Banking Act and addressing issues raised by Sen. Crapo in a December 2019 memo
WASHINGTON — A coalition of more than 30 national and state cannabis industry organizations sent a letter Thursday to Senate Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-ID), urging him to advance the House-approved version of a bill aimed at addressing the state-legal cannabis industry’s lack of access to banking and other financial services.
The House of Representatives passed the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act by a vote of 321-103 in September, with 91 Republicans voting in favor. Chairman Crapo said he intended to have the bill considered in his committee, but also expressed concerns about the bill and other aspects of cannabis policy not related to banking. Those concerns were reflected in a memo he released in December that outlined proposed changes to the bill and requested public comment to inform his decision-making.
“Together, the undersigned represent thousands of member-businesses in the United States,” the letter reads. “We are not writing to ask you to support federal legalization. We are merely asking that you facilitate the availability of financial services to the state-legal cannabis industry in order to improve public safety, allow states to easily track and collect tax revenue, and assist the state-legal industry with displacing an illicit market that is currently operating free from any regulatory oversight.”
The cannabis industry groups express concern that some of Chairman Crapo’s proposed changes to the SAFE Banking Act would undermine its goal of improving public safety. The letter specifically addresses the senator’s suggestion that banking services might only be made available to businesses that sell cannabis products that test below 2% THC, making it nearly impossible to operate profitably.
“Setting a low THC limit as a condition for obtaining banking services would have the effect of driving consumers to the illegal market, with revenue shifting from state-legal markets, which produce tens of thousands of living wage jobs and generate billions of dollars in tax revenue, to an underground economy, which produces neither,” the letter reads. “The same is true with respect to the suggestion that banking services be denied to companies that sell vape pens or other cannabis products that adults consume. Cannabis consumers will find the products that they desire, whether those products are legal or illegal, and the recent vaping crisis in the U.S. has underscored the dangers associated with steering consumers toward an unregulated market”
The letter also highlights the growing number of states that have regulated cannabis for adult and/or medical use, and it cites the broad bipartisan support that exists for the SAFE Banking Act, noting it has been endorsed by 38 state attorneys general and a number of national and state organizations representing banks and credit unions. It concludes with a renewed commitment to work with the senator on a legislative solution to the cannabis banking problem that addresses his concerns.
“The cannabis industry stands ready to work with your office on the myriad technical issues that you have suggested should be a priority, including making certain that these products are not available to children,” the letter reads. “We urge you to work with the state-regulated cannabis industry, the financial services sector, and other interested stakeholders on a solution that supports, rather than hinders, this burgeoning industry and the will of the American public.”
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Cannabis Industry Orgs Submit Letter to Congress Ahead of House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee Hearing
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health to Hold Hearing on Cannabis Policy Reform Wednesday
Cannabis industry groups send letter urging descheduling and federal regulation to increase research, improve public safety and address harms caused by prohibition
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The first congressional hearing of 2020 on cannabis policy will take place on Wednesday, January 15. The hearing, entitled “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade,” will be held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building at 10 a.m. ET. Livestream will be available here.
The hearing is expected to explore the barriers to cannabis research, the health and social impacts of current federal cannabis policies and the implications of reform, as well as several pieces of cannabis-related legislation including the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act.
A broad coalition of groups representing state-legal cannabis businesses, including the National Cannabis Industry Association, Cannabis Trade Federation, Minority Cannabis Business Association, National Cannabis Roundtable, and Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce sent a letter to the subcommittee urging Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that would remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances and allow it to be effectively regulated at the federal level, as well as expressing support for a number of related policy issues. Several of these groups are also submitting testimony to the subcommittee for the hearing record.
“The cannabis industry is united in its desire to end the disastrous century-long experiment with prohibition and start enacting sensible policies focused on justice and health,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Descheduling and regulation are the best ways to promote research, improve public safety, begin repairing the damage done by outdated laws, and help displace the unregulated underground cannabis market.”
“This hearing is one more sign that Congress is moving toward more sensible cannabis policy at the federal level. It cannot come soon enough,” said Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation. “The dichotomy between state and federal cannabis laws is untenable and the nation would benefit from the kinds of policies our organizations have endorsed in this joint letter.”
“Any federal cannabis regulatory framework must address the unique health concerns of people of color, women, and veterans without creating undue burdens on small businesses,” said Jason Ortiz, president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. “We are confident congress can achieve this by putting social and economic justice at the center of any legalization legislation.”
“Bipartisan cannabis reform will unlock the full potential of our growing industry. Working together we can advance economic opportunity, patient access and social justice. We look forward to leveraging the knowledge and expertise of our members as Congress moves closer to addressing cannabis reform at the federal level,” said Saphira Galoob, executive director for the National Cannabis Roundtable.
“The Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce is proud to stand with industry partners for safe and sensible regulation of cannabis at the federal level,” said Randal John Meyer, executive director of the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce. “Descheduling cannabis and regulating its safe medical and adult use is exactly the kind of policy the federal government should be considering for ending cannabis prohibition.”
The MORE Act – which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge federal marijuana convictions, and allocate funds to promote fair access to the cannabis industry and reinvestment in the communities that have been disproportionately harmed by prohibition – was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in November. This was the first time such legislation has received a vote in a House committee.
WHAT: House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade”
WHEN: Wednesday, January 15 at 10 a.m. ET
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2123, 45 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C.
WHO: U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health
Matthew Strait, Drug Enforcement Administration
Douglas Throckmorton, Food and Drug Administration
Nora Volkow, National Institute on Drug Abuse
House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition
Historic vote marks the first time the committee has approved comprehensive legislation to remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances and address harms caused by prohibition
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a 24-10 vote, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would effectively end marijuana prohibition on Wednesday. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019, or H.R. 3884, was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and currently has 55 cosponsors. This is the first time that a congressional committee has approved a bill to make cannabis legal.
The MORE Act would federally decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, and would require the expungement of past federal cannabis convictions. The bill would establish a Cannabis Justice Office to administer a program to reinvest resources in the communities that have been most heavily impacted by prohibition, funded by a 5% tax on state-legal cannabis commerce. It would also allow the Small Business Administration to provide loans and grants to cannabis-related businesses and support state and local equity licensing programs, and would permit doctors within the Veterans Affairs system to recommend medical cannabis to patients in accordance with applicable state laws.
“Today’s vote marks a turning point for federal cannabis policy, and is truly a sign that prohibition’s days are numbered,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “Thanks to the diligent efforts of advocates and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, we’ve seen more progress in this Congress than ever before. Supermajority public support for legalization, increasing recognition of the devastating impacts of prohibition on marginalized communities and people of color, and the undeniable success of state cannabis programs throughout the country are all helping to build momentum for comprehensive change in the foreseeable future.”
A Pew Research Center survey released last week showed record support for making marijuana legal, with 67% of all adults in favor of legalization – including a majority of Republican respondents.
A recent amendment to the bill included the addition of language contained in the Realizing Equitable & Sustainable Participation in Emerging Cannabis Trades (RESPECT) Resolution introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). This resolution was the basis for a paper released by NCIA earlier this year on specific policy goals that can help ensure fairness and equal representation in the cannabis industry.
“There is still much work to be done, including the establishment of sound federal regulations for cannabis products,” continued Smith. “This vote brings us one step closer to ending the disaster that is prohibition and repairing the harms it has caused while we continue the discussion in Congress about how to best regulate cannabis at the federal level. We urge lawmakers to move forward with this necessary bill without delay.”
Last month, NCIA released an in-depth set of recommendations that should be used to establish a federal regulatory structure for different types of cannabis and hemp products through existing federal agencies so that cannabis products can be effectively regulated similarly to alcohol and other consumables.
Cannabis Industry Leaders Urge Congress to Deschedule and Regulate in Response to Vaping Illnesses
National Cannabis Industry Association delivered letter to lawmakers today signed by nearly 800 businesses and advocates suggesting federal regulatory structure to improve public safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) delivered a letter to both chambers of Congress on Thursday urging sensible and timely federal action in response to increasing reports of illnesses largely tied to illicit market vape cartridge products. The letter, which was signed by nearly 800 business leaders, advocates, and policy experts, asks lawmakers to immediately work to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that cannabis products can be effectively regulated at the federal level. These actions would remove barriers to research, allow the federal government to establish uniform safety protocols and provide guidance to state regulatory bodies, and help displace the illicit unregulated cannabis market that is the source of the vast majority of the products tied to illness cases.
The full text of the letter with signatories is available here.
“This outbreak of illnesses is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy, and the direct result of failed prohibition policies,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry. “It is imperative that lawmakers understand this, and know that the cannabis industry is committed to working with them to help solve this issue and prevent further suffering. We have the tools to protect cannabis consumers and improve public safety, and are ready to help Congress implement them without delay.”
Earlier this week, NCIA released an in-depth set of recommendations that should be used to establish a federal regulatory structure for different types of cannabis and hemp products through existing federal agencies.
“State regulators and responsible, licensed cannabis businesses have been doing an excellent job at keeping potentially dangerous products out of the legal market,” continued Smith. “We urge Congress to help us continue – and improve upon – this record by ending prohibition and creating an efficient and intelligent national regulatory structure.”
NCIA Releases Guidelines for Federal Cannabis Regulation After Legalization
Report urges Congress to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act; suggests classifications for different cannabis products, most appropriate federal agencies and methods to regulate them
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) announced the release of a paper providing extensive guidance on how cannabis should be regulated at the federal level. The paper highlights the need to have a clearly defined regulatory approach and structure prepared as the nation moves closer to making cannabis legal for adults, and identifies the existing agencies best suited to regulate the wide variety of cannabis products available in state-regulated legal cannabis markets.
The full paper, which was produced by NCIA’s Policy Council, is titled “Adapting a Regulatory Framework for the Emerging Cannabis Industry” and can be found here.
“As a country, we are starting to move past whether we should end cannabis prohibition, and need to put serious consideration into how we do that and what a post-legalization world looks like in terms of federal regulatory policy,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The recommendations outlined in this report build on successful methodologies by assigning regulatory duties to existing agencies, while avoiding restrictions that would not be appropriate for cannabis as well as some of the missteps that have occurred with other products. We look forward to working with Congress to overturn our outdated federal marijuana laws and begin implementing this structure to help ensure public safety and displace the illicit cannabis market.”
The variety of products that contain cannabis means that a “one-size-fits-all” regulatory framework would be ineffective. Under such a framework, some products would be overregulated, while others might be underregulated. Instead, different regulatory structures, or “lanes,” should be utilized based on the characteristics and intended uses of the products to leverage existing federal regulatory expertise. This will lead to an effective and efficient review process for existing government agencies, specifically the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), that avoids unnecessary bureaucracy, costs, and delays for cannabis companies or the government. Because human consumables are already regulated by the federal government through a variety of regulatory lanes designed for these purposes, most cannabis products could simply follow analogous products already being sold legally through these lanes, which the paper defines as follows:
• Lane #1 — Pharmaceutical drugs (eg: Epidiolex; Marinol) (Regulated Like Prescription Drugs; Lead Federal Regulator: FDA)
• Lane #2 — Ingested, inhaled or topically applied products with more than de minimis amounts of THC (+0.3%) (Regulated Like Alcohol; Lead Federal Regulator: TTB)
• Lane #3 — Ingested and inhaled products with de minimis amounts of THC (<0.3% THC) (Regulated Like Food/Dietary Supplements; Lead Regulator: FDA)
• Lane #4 — Topically applied products with de minimis amounts of THC (<0.3% THC) (Regulated Like Cosmetics; Lead Federal Regulator: FDA)
The paper also explains some of the reasons why removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, rather than moving it to a different schedule, is necessary for the effective implementation of federal regulations.
“This approach will help us protect consumers, foster research, and provide guidance for the growing number of states that are regulating cannabis for adult and medical purposes as we work to repair the harms caused by prohibition,” continued Smith.
Cannabis is legal for adults in 11 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states. Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the first standalone cannabis legislation to receive a vote in Congress, the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow financial services providers to work with state-legal cannabis, hemp, and ancillary businesses.
New Report Adds to Evidence Tying Vaping Illnesses to Illicit Products
NBC News study tested regulated and illicit market vape cartridges, finding potentially dangerous contaminants only in illegal products
National Cannabis Industry Association warns that banning regulated & tested products could make problems worse
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following increasing reports of illnesses and deaths primarily related to illicit market cannabis and nicotine products, the National Cannabis Industry Association is urging state and local governments to use caution when instituting policies that could drive consumers to the illicit market. Most reports that have become public show that these cases are almost entirely associated with unregulated products, and no definitive links between regulated products and vaping illnesses have been confirmed.
On Friday, NBC News released a report based on testing of regulated and illicit market products. The report showed that almost all of the illicit market products contained potentially dangerous contaminants, including Vitamin E acetate, which has been linked to a number of illness cases, and a fungicide that produces hydrogen cyanide. None of the regulated products tested contained these chemicals. While not conclusive, this study adds to the evidence distancing the legal cannabis market from this outbreak.
Nevertheless, state and local governments are considering bans on all vape products, including those that are produced and sold under strict state regulatory controls. Massachusetts recently enacted a 4 month ban on all vape cartridges.
“This unfortunate situation continues to highlight the need to support state regulatory systems, as well as to deschedule and regulate cannabis products at the federal level,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “It is increasingly clear that the root causes of these illnesses most likely lie in the illicit market. Banning regulated and quality-controlled vape products could very easily exacerbate this problem. Instead of stamping out the illicit market, preventing consumers from accessing reliable, tested products will drive many of them to purchase unregulated and potentially dangerous products instead, and the lack of competition from legal sources will only incentivize underground producers to increase production and cut more corners, possibly making their products even more deadly. Banning regulated products literally hands the vape market to the people most responsible for this widespread health problem on a silver platter.”
“We hope states and localities think twice before repeating the mistakes of prohibition, and we strongly urge consumers to avoid illicit market products and only purchase regulated cannabis products at licensed retail establishments,” continued Smith. “Furthermore, we ask Congress to immediately begin the process of descheduling cannabis and to work with public health officials, medical experts, and other stakeholders to sensibly regulate this substance at the federal level.”
House of Representatives Approves Cannabis Banking Reform in Landmark Vote
SAFE Banking Act would provide safe harbor for banks and lenders to work with state-legal cannabis businesses to address public safety, transparency, and access to capital
** Press conference THURSDAY at House Triangle at 2:30p with lawmakers and advocates **
WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the first time in history, a standalone cannabis policy reform bill was brought before the House of Representatives for a vote and passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, or H.R. 1595, was approved 321-103, including nearly half of voting Republicans, in a suspension vote on Wednesday.
“Having worked alongside Congressional leaders to resolve the cannabis industry’s banking access issues for over six years, it’s incredibly gratifying to see this strong bipartisan showing of support in today’s House vote,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “We owe a great debt of gratitude to the bill sponsors, who have been working with us to move this issue forward long before anyone else thought it was worth the effort.”
Due to current federal laws and financial regulations, most banks are unwilling to risk prosecution or punishment to work with state-legal cannabis businesses and often ancillary businesses that service the cannabis industry. This forces many businesses in this space to operate almost entirely in cash, creating public safety issues for everyone involved, from businesses and their employees to tax collectors and regulators. These policies also hinder the efforts of regulators and law enforcement to effectively monitor the legal cannabis market. Financial services institutions are also unable to provide loans to people in the cannabis industry, which disproportionately impacts small businesses and marginalized communities with less access to personal wealth or investment capital.
The SAFE Banking Act as approved in the House would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis- and hemp-related businesses that are obeying state laws. The bill would protect ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry from being charged with money laundering and other financial crimes, and requires the Financial Institution Examination Council to develop guidance to help credit unions and banks understand how to lawfully serve cannabis businesses. Access to capital for small businesses would be increased by allowing traditional lending from financial service provides, and regular reporting on loan practices involving women and people of color in the cannabis industry would be required.
H.R. 1595 was introduced in this session by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Warren Davidson (R-OH) with more than 100 other original cosponsors, eventually reaching 206 cosponsors prior to the vote Wednesday.
“Now, it’s time for the Senate to take swift action to approve the SAFE Banking Act so that this commonsense legislation can make its way to the President’s desk,” continued Smith. “This bipartisan legislation is vital to protecting public safety, fostering transparency, and leveling the playing field for small businesses in the growing number of states with successful cannabis programs.”
The Senate version of the SAFE Banking Act, S. 1200, was introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in April. The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the issue in July, and Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) recently announced that cannabis banking legislation is being seriously considered in that chamber.
NCIA will host a press conference with lawmakers and allied organizations to discuss the vote on Thursday, September 26 at 2:30 p.m. ET at the House Triangle, just outside the U.S. Capitol.
National Cannabis Industry Association Calls on Congress to Regulate Cannabis in Response to Reports of Vaping-Related Illnesses
Advocates cite prohibition as main driver of illicit market products linked to most cases, urge federal action, caution from producers of state-legal cannabis vape products
** Statement below from National Cannabis Industry Association Executive Director Aaron Smith **
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recent weeks, a growing number of respiratory illness cases associated with nicotine or cannabis vaporizer (vape) cartridges have been reported, leading to increasing concern among cannabis vape cartridge consumers, regulators, and medical experts. As of early this week, more than 450 cases have been reported nationwide, including six fatal cases.
The vast majority of these reports have been linked to vape cartridges that were produced and obtained in the illicit and unregulated market, or that were adulterated by consumers. The minute number of cases that have so far been associated with legal cannabis products have not shown definitive links to those specific products. Cases have been reported in states with and without regulated cannabis markets.
Preliminary research has suggested some additive thickening agents, particularly Vitamin E acetate, as a likely cause for many of these cases. This is so far inconclusive, however, and other possible causes including pre-existing medical conditions, faulty delivery devices, or problematic consumption behavior are being explored.
In light of the indeterminate cause(s) of these illnesses and variance in state regulations regarding vape cartridges, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) makes the following recommendations:
- Congress is urged to immediately remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and begin to sensibly regulate this substance in a manner similar to alcohol and other consumables, and to make funds immediately available to state medical authorities to investigate these cases.
- Licensed vape cartridge producers are encouraged to halt the use, if any, of additive thickening agents until more data is available.
- Given the preliminary reported association of some illness cases with Vitamin E acetate, any licensed producer that has included this additive in recent vape product batches is strongly encouraged to issue a voluntary recall of those products.
- Licensed cannabis retailers are encouraged to take steps to ensure none of their available vape cartridge inventories have been sourced from a producer that uses Vitamin E acetate.
- Cannabis vape cartridge consumers are urged to immediately cease the use of any product obtained from the illicit market and to limit any future purchases of vape cartridges and other cannabis products to state-licensed, regulated businesses.
Statement from Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association:
“These unfortunate illnesses and deaths are yet another terrible, and largely avoidable, consequence of failed prohibition policies. Current federal laws interfere with research, prevent federal regulatory agencies from establishing safety guidelines, discourage states from regulating cannabis, and make it more difficult for state-legal cannabis businesses to displace the illicit market. These policies are directly bolstering the markets for untested and potentially dangerous illicit products.
The fact that so few of these cases have so far reported any link whatsoever to the legal cannabis market is a testament to the effectiveness of state regulators and licensed businesses at ensuring product reliability. As an industry, however, we view it as our duty to make sure whatever is causing these illnesses is not replicated in legal products and to work toward enacting regulations that can prevent similar public health issues from occurring in the future. The legal cannabis industry is paying very close attention to any new information provided by medical authorities regarding these cases.
It is now the responsibility of Congress to end prohibition and regulate cannabis without delay. By removing cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances and instituting a clear regulatory framework through existing agencies, the federal government can provide helpful guidance to states that have or wish to establish regulated cannabis control systems while helping put irresponsible illicit market producers out of business for good.
We are deeply saddened by this situation and sincerely hope the specific causes are determined as soon as possible to help avoid further suffering. We stand ready to work with Congress and federal regulators on the long-term solution to this problem, which is replacing prohibition with sound regulations.”
Cannabis is legal for adults in 11 states, Guam, and the District of Columbia, and 33 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.
Cannabis Industry and Policy Reform Advocates Urge Congress to Promote Equity and Address Racially Disparate Harms Caused by Prohibition
National Cannabis Industry Association joins more than 100 signatories in letter delivered to lawmakers today
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) joined other trade organizations and policy groups, as well as dozens of cannabis businesses, in submitting a letter to members of Congress urging them to address the racially disparate harms caused by prohibition. The letter, which was signed by more than 100 businesses and organizations, calls for federal legislation to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, allow banks and other financial institutions to work with cannabis businesses and provide loans to people from marginalized communities who are trying to participate in the industry, and reform the federal tax code to remove the provision that imposes a discriminatory tax rate on cannabis businesses and creates a significant barrier for entry into the legal cannabis market.
The letter also calls for allocating federal funds for programs that would help provide restorative justice and promote equity in the cannabis industry. These include providing financial support for state programs that promote equity, allowing cannabis businesses to access Small Business Administration programs and benefits, expunging cannabis convictions and improving access to services that have been denied to people with cannabis-related criminal records, and reinvesting in the communities that have been most harmed by prohibition. The full text of the letter is available at http://www.DescheduleMarijuana.com.
“As representatives of the legal cannabis industry, we have a responsibility to help undo the harms caused by prohibition and ensure that people most impacted by failed federal policies have access to the opportunities being created every day in this market. We are pleased to join this distinguished group of business leaders and advocates in calling on Congress to incorporate these ideas into legislation,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “Past Congresses have played a major role in marginalizing people of color through the war on cannabis, and it is the duty of current and future lawmakers to make up for this.”
“4Front is proud to stand with NCIA, the Minority Cannabis Business Association, and the other organizations that have signed this letter in support of federal cannabis policy reform that will not only help foster a more inclusive industry, but begin to address some of the harm done to communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs,” said Kris Krane, co-founder and president of multi-state cannabis company 4Front Ventures and NCIA board member. “This is a cause that many of us have been pursuing for decades and it’s been tremendously gratifying to watch as the conversation has shifted from whether or not to legalize cannabis to how should we go about legalizing it.”
Last week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a historic hearing entitled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform” to begin a larger conversation in Congress about these problems and how to start fixing them.
In May, NCIA released a set of guidelines in conjunction with lawmakers and stakeholders called Increasing Equity in the Cannabis Industry: Six Achievable Goals for Policy Makers, which provides legislators with simple paths toward addressing many of the issues referenced in the letter.
The SAFE Banking Act, which would remedy the current cannabis banking situation discussed in the letter while increasing public safety and industry transparency, was approved by the House Financial Services Committee in March, and is expected to be voted on by the full House soon. The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on a companion bill on Tuesday.
There are currently 47 states that allow cannabis in some form. Thirty-three states and several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws, and 11 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and CNMI have made cannabis legal for adults.