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Senate Cannabis Banking Reform Bill Reintroduced with Bipartisan Support

SAFE Banking Act would protect financial institutions working with the legal cannabis industry

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was introduced in the Senate on Thursday by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with 20 cosponsors. The bipartisan legislation, which was introduced in the House last month, would protect banks and other financial institutions from prosecution and ease restrictions for providing services to cannabis businesses that are in compliance with state laws.

The House companion bill, H.R. 1595, was introduced in February by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Warren Davidson (R-OH). The bill was approved with bipartisan support in the House Financial Services Committee in March and currently has 158 cosponsors.

“Lack of access to financial services is creating public safety problems for the rapidly growing legal cannabis industry, as well as interfering with transparency and access to capital for small businesses,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The Senate now has the opportunity to keep up the momentum that the SAFE Banking Act has in the House and address this important issue.”

“Forcing legal businesses to operate in all-cash is dangerous for our communities,” said Sen. Merkley. “It’s absurd that cannabis business owners in Oregon have to shuttle around gym bags full of cash to take care of their taxes or pay their employees. Operating in cash is an invitation to robbery, money laundering, and organized crime. This is a public safety issue, and I hope that this will be the Congress when we build a bipartisan consensus to put this common-sense fix into law.”

The SAFE Banking Act would prevent federal banking regulators from sanctioning banks for working with cannabis related businesses that are obeying state laws or halting their services, taking action on loans made to those businesses, or limiting a depository institution’s access to the Deposit Insurance Fund. The bill would also 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.

On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called on Congress to address the cannabis banking issue, citing the inability of financial regulators to solve the problems caused by the lack of access to banking services.

Cannabis is legal for adults in ten 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.

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National Cannabis Industry Association Hires Andrew Kline to Lead Public Policy

Former vice presidential advisor, federal prosecutor, and public policy expert will direct the organization’s policy efforts

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the nation’s largest and most representative trade group for the legal cannabis industry, has hired Andrew Kline for the newly created position of director of public policy. In addition to leading federal and state policy efforts on behalf of NCIA’s nearly 2,000 members, Kline will also lead NCIA’s Policy Council, an elite group of NCIA members striving to influence federal and state public policy.

“I’m pleased to announce that Andrew Kline is joining the NCIA team as director of public policy,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “In this new role, Andrew will lead our substantive public policy efforts, striving to prepare, protect, and expand the legal cannabis industry. As this cutting edge industry continues to grow, Andrew will help NCIA grow along with it as we support our members, promote sensible policies, and encourage our core values of corporate responsibility and inclusivity in the industry.”

Kline most recently served as president of the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB), the first self-regulatory organization for the legal cannabis industry. At the NACB, Andrew led the creation of national standards for the state-legal cannabis industry, oversaw its standards governance board, and led day-to-day operations and strategic planning.

“I could not be more excited to join NCIA – the premier national cannabis trade association – at this critical time for the industry,” said Andrew Kline. “Cannabis policy will be at the forefront, as entrepreneurs continue to navigate the tension between state and federal law. We will elevate the voice that our members have in the national debate and make certain that their business interests are protected. I’m particularly eager to serve as a resource to our members, the Policy Council, and NCIA lobbyists on Capitol Hill as we develop public policies that create value. And I’m enthusiastic about collaborating with the broader cannabis community to develop policies that support state-legal cannabis businesses.”

Kline has an extensive background in public policy, law enforcement, and coalition creation/management. He is renowned for his ability to create solutions to complex domestic and global public policy issues that appeal to both private and public constituencies.

Prior to joining the NACB, Kline was special counsel for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Enforcement Bureau where he was responsible for high profile investigations and public policy negotiations affecting the telecommunications, internet, cable, and satellite industries. He also served as chief of staff and senior advisor for Intellectual Property Enforcement in the Executive Office of the President in the Obama Administration where he led public-private partnerships and public policy efforts to address online trademark theft, copyright infringement, consumer safety, national security, and the protection of domestic business interests globally.

Kline previously worked as executive-in-residence at American University’s School of Public Affairs where he taught graduate-level courses in public policy and law. He also served as senior policy advisor to Joe Biden during his time as a senator and vice president, and spent fourteen years as a federal prosecutor. He is admitted to the Bar in California, Colorado, and the District of Columbia, and holds an MPA from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

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STATES Act to End Cannabis Prohibition Reintroduced in Congress

Bipartisan legislation would protect legal businesses in states that have regulated cannabis

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The introduction of legislation in Congress that would allow states to determine their own cannabis policies without fear of federal interference was announced in a bicameral press conference at the Capitol on Thursday featuring bill sponsors and members of the congressional Cannabis Caucus. The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2019 is being introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the Senate and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dave Joyce (R-OH) in the House.

“The current federal policy interferes with the ability of states to implement their own cannabis laws, and the resulting system has stifled important medical research, hurt legitimate businesses and diverted critical law enforcement resources needed elsewhere,” said Rep. Dave Joyce. “It’s past time for Congress to clarify cannabis policy on the federal level and ensure states are free to make their own decisions in the best interest of their constituents. The STATES Act does just that by respecting the will of the states that have legalized cannabis in some form and allowing them to implement their own policies without fear of repercussion from the federal government.”

The bipartisan legislation would exempt individuals and businesses in compliance with state cannabis laws and a set of new federal guidelines from certain provisions of the federal Controlled Substances Act. The legislation does not remove federal criminal penalties for illicit marijuana behavior but would end federal interference with state and tribal laws that have regulated the production, sale, and personal consumption of cannabis for medical patients and adults age 21 and older. The bill also mandates the Government Accountability Office to study the potential impact of cannabis legalization on traffic safety, and removes a provision from last year’s bill regarding hemp that was addressed in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“The STATES Act is being reintroduced at a key moment when bipartisan support for cannabis policy reform is at historic levels in both chambers of Congress and among the general public,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Regulating cannabis is successfully replacing illicit markets with licensed businesses in a growing number of states across the country. This legislation will simply allow those state regulatory programs to succeed without federal interference.”

During his confirmation hearings earlier this year, Attorney General William Barr stated verbally and in writing that he would not direct the Dept. of Justice to target cannabis businesses or individuals that are in compliance with state cannabis laws, but individual federal prosecutors are still able to do so legally at their own discretion, creating uncertainty at the state level. The STATES Act would codify the policy reiterated by Barr into law.

In June, President Trump said he would probably support the legislation if it came to his desk for approval, and noted several times during his campaign that he was in favor of leaving cannabis issues up to the states.

There are currently several cannabis reform bills being considered in Congress, including the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide safe harbor for financial institutions that choose to work with cannabis businesses and which was approved by the House Financial Services Committee in a bipartisan vote last week.

Cannabis is legal for adults in ten states 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, and dozens of states are considering cannabis policy reform legislation this year. This week, the governor of Guam signed a legalization bill into law.

Cannabis Banking Reform Bill Approved by House Financial Services Committee

SAFE Banking Act would provide safe harbor for financial institutions who work with the legal cannabis industry; suggested amendments would protect new banks and insurers, study impact on diversity

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday morning, the House Financial Services Committee approved an updated version of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would provide safe harbor and guidance to financial institutions that wish to work with legal cannabis businesses, in a vote of 45-15. This is the first markup and committee approval of a cannabis-related bill in this congressional session. The legislation will now go back to the House for further consideration.

Suggested amendments include a mandate for the Government Accountability Office to study the impact of the bill on access to financial services and the cannabis industry for women and people of color, as well as extending protections to insurers and new financial institutions as they form.

“The SAFE Banking Act would go a long way toward improving safety, transparency, access, and justice in the cannabis industry,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The amendments agreed upon in committee should solidify the already overwhelming support for this legislation in the House. The cannabis and financial services industries have been waiting for clarification and protection for far too long, and we are confident the House would approve this bill if allowed to vote on it without further delay.”

The bill was originally introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Warren Davidson (R-OH). It currently has 152 congressional cosponsors, more than any cannabis reform legislation.

The SAFE Banking Act would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis related businesses that are obeying state laws or halting their services, taking action on loans made to those businesses, or limiting a depository institution’s access to the Deposit Insurance Fund. The bill would also 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.

On Monday, the American Bankers Association and the Credit Union National Association sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to support the SAFE Banking Act, and an article published in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday explored the wide variety of businesses that support cannabis banking reform.

Cannabis is legal for adults in ten states 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, and dozens of states are considering cannabis policy reform legislation this year.

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Resolve Legal Cannabis Industry’s Banking Woes

SAFE Banking Act would provide safe harbor for financial institutions who work with legal cannabis businesses, their employees, and ancillary industries

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill that would make it easier for financial institutions to work with the cannabis industry was introduced today and is expected to be considered in Congress this session. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, sponsored by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Warren Davidson (R-OH) in the House with 106 cosponsors, would provide much-needed clarity and protections for banks that choose to work with cannabis businesses that are in compliance with state laws.

“Members of the legal cannabis industry are already one of the most unfairly taxed and heavily regulated groups in the country. They shouldn’t have to deal with the additional costs and safety concerns that are caused by preventing banks from working with them,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The SAFE Banking Act is a narrowly tailored and absolutely necessary step to address an issue that is getting increasingly urgent as more and more states decide to sensibly regulate cannabis.”

“The majority of American voters have spoken and it’s happening whether we act or not. The SAFE Banking Act is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and making our communities safer,” said Rep. Perlmutter. “Only Congress can provide the certainty financial institutions need to start banking legitimate marijuana businesses – just like any other legal business – and reduce risks for employees, businesses and communities across the country.”

The SAFE Banking Act would prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis related businesses that are obeying state laws or halting their services, taking action on loans made to those businesses, or limiting a depository institution’s access to the Deposit Insurance Fund. The bill would also 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.

Draft legislation of the SAFE Banking Act received a historic hearing in the House Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee last month, which heard supportive testimony from the California state treasurer, law enforcement, representatives of credit unions and banks, and a licensed medical cannabis producer and retailer from the District of Columbia. NCIA submitted written testimony along with the personal stories about the burdens and safety concerns created by the current banking situation from nearly 100 cannabis industry professionals.

The American Bankers Association recently voiced their support for this legislation, reporting last month that financial industry surveys show three quarters of banks have had to close a cannabis business account because of the current restrictions, and that support for clarification from Congress on this issue is nearly unanimous, even among banks in non-legal states that have no interest in directly serving the cannabis industry. And last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell cited the need for more clarity about cannabis banking in a Senate Finance Committee hearing. Last year, this legislation had 20 cosponsors in the Senate and 95 cosponsors in the House.

Cannabis is legal for adults in ten states 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. In February, legislative committees in four states approved cannabis legalization bills, and many more states are expected to consider the issue this year.

Cannabis Decriminalization and Research Bills Introduced

Legislation would end federal prohibition and mandate study on the effects of state cannabis programs

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A pair of bills was introduced today by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK), adding to a steadily increasing slate of cannabis-related legislation being submitted to Congress for consideration this year. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and effectively allow states to determine their own cannabis policies and put an end to federal cannabis prosecutions. The Marijuana Data Collection Act would require the National Academy of Sciences to study and report on the status of state cannabis programs and their impact on public health, safety, and the economy.

“We are grateful to Representatives Gabbard and Young for adding to the bipartisan chorus of voices in Congress calling for cannabis policy reform by introducing these bills,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “States should be able to make their own cannabis laws without fear of federal interference, and lawmakers deserve to see comprehensive research on what an increasing number of states are already proving – that regulating cannabis works.”

“We look forward to a study conducted by an independent federal agency that isn’t invested in continuing marijuana prohibition,” Smith continued. “Lawmakers and regulators at the state and federal level will benefit from a study that takes a serious look at the effects of making cannabis legal for medical and adult use. There is already plenty of evidence showing that regulation is working in the states, but we need to look at the potential public health and economic impacts of further reforms, and the real costs of continuing to ban a substance that has proven medical benefits and whose prohibition continues to cause massive societal harms.”

Both bills are reintroductions from last year, when they received bipartisan support in the House. In that session, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act had 39 cosponsors, and the Marijuana Data Collection Act had 34 cosponsors.

Cannabis is legal for adults in ten states and the District of Columbia, and 33 states as well as several territories have effective medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.

Marijuana Justice Act Reintroduced in Congress as Federal and State Lawmakers Consider Cannabis Policy Reform

Legislation would end federal cannabis prohibition, help address harms caused by decades of criminalization, and increase access to legal industry

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, lawmakers reintroduced legislation that would end federal marijuana prohibition and allow states to determine their own cannabis policies without the threat of federal interference. The Marijuana Justice Act was originally introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee and Sen. Cory Booker and garnered 43 cosponsors in the House and six in the Senate in the last session. It is currently the most far-reaching and comprehensive cannabis policy reform legislation being considered in Congress. The bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act schedule and eliminate federal criminal penalties for possession, cultivation, manufacture, import, and export of cannabis.

“Regulating cannabis is working in the states and we’re pleased to see that this Congress appears to be making federal reform a higher priority than in previous years,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Hopefully this legislation will get the serious consideration it deserves. The country is ready and eager to move past prohibition, start addressing the impact it has had on marginalized communities, and explore the economic potential of replacing criminal markets with regulated small businesses.”

The bill includes several provisions to address the historically discriminatory enforcement of cannabis laws and sentencing. All federal cannabis use or possession convictions would be expunged under the measure, and a special grant program would be created through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reinvest in communities that have been most impacted by prohibition. It would also allow Congress to withhold federal funds from states that exhibit racially disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates under their own cannabis laws.

“We cannot talk about making cannabis legal without considering how to undo the harms caused by years of prohibition,” continued Smith. “As more and more states move to regulate cannabis, it is completely unfair to continue saddling people with the lifelong negative effects that come with a criminal record, nor should a past arrest be a barrier to taking part in the burgeoning cannabis industry. While much more work needs to be done at the state and federal level, the Marijuana Justice Act sets an excellent example for others to follow, and will make it much easier for states to make necessary reforms to address this injustice and maximize the opportunities created by a legal cannabis market.”

Rep. Lee is also reintroducing a cannabis-related bill and resolution in the House today. The Restraining Excessive Federal Enforcement & Regulations of Cannabis (REFER) Act would prevent the federal government from using funds to interfere with state cannabis programs, target businesses or individuals in compliance with state cannabis laws, or penalize financial institutions that work with those businesses. The Realizing Equitable & Sustainable Participation in Emerging Cannabis Trades (RESPECT) Resolution recognizes that the people most harmed by the racially disparate enforcement of prohibition benefit the least from some of the state and local policies regulating the cannabis market. The resolution urges officials and lawmakers to implement a series of practices when granting licenses for legal cannabis businesses to improve access for these communities to the nascent industry, such as minimal application and license fees, no caps on the number of licenses, increased local control of the licensing process, and removing broad felony and cannabis convictions as automatic disqualifiers for participation.

With dozens of supportive members of Congress now in office and Democrats in control of key federal committees, advocates are confident that comprehensive cannabis policy reform legislation will be actively considered in the House in the 2019 session. Draft legislation to allow banks to more easily work with the cannabis industry received a supportive hearing in the House Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee earlier this month, and bills to address unfair federal taxation of cannabis businesses, veteran access, and increased research are expected to make significant progress this year as well.

Cannabis is legal for adults in ten states and the District of Columbia, and 33 states, D.C., as well as several territories have effective medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states. In February, legislative committees in four states approved cannabis legalization bills, and many more states are expected to consider the issue this year.

Congressional Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Providing Safe Harbor for Banks to Work with Legal Cannabis Businesses

House Financial Services Subcommittee considers legislation that would make it easier for cannabis businesses to access banking services if they are in compliance with state law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection heard testimony Wednesday from representatives of the financial sector, the cannabis industry, law enforcement, and the treasurer of California in support of legislation that would make it easier for banks to work with legal cannabis businesses without fear of federal prosecution. The committee discussed a draft of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives this month by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA). The bill would address the public safety and transparency issues that are created by current banking restrictions which discourage most financial institutions from being able to have cannabis businesses as clients.

“Congress has an opportunity to make a simple policy change that will greatly benefit communities and small businesses by approving cannabis banking reform,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “Representatives Perlmutter and Heck should be commended for pushing for this hearing so that this issue can get the attention it deserves and we can move toward a sensible policy that will increase public safety and transparency in this burgeoning industry.”

Under current restrictions, most financial institutions are unwilling to work with cannabis businesses due to the threat of federal prosecution. While cannabis is legal in some form in 47 states, it is still illegal under federal law, and banks that work with them could be charged with crimes including money laundering.

Dealing solely in cash also creates difficulties for state regulators and tax collectors, from logistical problems to limited transparency. Most crucially, while research shows that cannabis businesses are associated with decreases in crime where they are located, the fact that they are mostly forced to operate on a cash-only basis makes them attractive targets for crime themselves, putting employees, customers, and the general public at risk.

“We have the power in this committee to prevent murders and robberies, here today,” said Rep. Perlmutter during the hearing.

Rep. Perlmutter and Rep. Heck are expected to introduce an updated version of a bill that they introduced last year, the SAFE Banking Act, that would resolve this issue by protecting banks and creating a safe harbor for them to work with regulated cannabis businesses. At the end of the last congressional session, the bill had garnered nearly 100 cosponsors.

NCIA submitted written testimony for this hearing, along with dozens of testimonials from cannabis business owners and employees about their experiences with the currently problematic financial services environment.

 

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Senate Legislation to End Federal Cannabis Prohibition Introduced Today

S. 420 would deschedule cannabis and create a federal excise tax on legal cannabis products; companion legislation would bring federal laws more in line with legal states and eliminate existing burdensome tax penalties for cannabis businesses

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation that would effectively end federal cannabis prohibition was introduced in the Senate today by ranking Senate Finance Committee member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, or S. 420, would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), set an excise tax for state-legal cannabis producers, and regulate the substance similarly to alcohol.

“Momentum is clearly building for comprehensive cannabis policy reform in Congress, and this legislation will help push lawmakers closer to ending federal prohibition in the near future,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “It is time to let states to determine their own cannabis policies without fear of interference and allow regulated businesses to replace the illicit market.”

The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act is part of a larger legislative package that will address a variety of cannabis policy issues in Congress this year. The Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act would remove most federal criminal penalties for cannabis businesses that are in compliance with state law, create a national expungement process for cannabis-related criminal records, and address issues related to travel, housing, veterans, and Native American tribes. The Small Business Tax Equity Act would amend section 280E of the federal tax code to allow legal cannabis operations to take the ordinary business deductions afforded to other industries.

Removing cannabis from the CSA and fixing the 280E tax code issue would be a significant benefit for the cannabis industry, but advocates are concerned that the excise tax could be problematic if it is set too high or escalates too quickly, and could trade one overly burdensome tax for another.

“This legislation would be a boon for the cannabis industry and for states that have enacted effective laws, but it is vital that the federal tax rates be established in a way that does not incentivize the continuation of the illicit market,” continued Smith. “It is equally important that small businesses, which would be disproportionately impacted by heavy federal taxes of any sort, be allowed to stay competitive in the industry. We will continue to work with lawmakers to find a rate that is fair to all parties.”

NCIA’s guide for sensible and equitable federal taxation can be found here.

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Attorney General Nominee Vows to Respect State Marijuana Laws

William Barr stated in confirmation hearing Tuesday that he would not use federal resources to target state-legal cannabis businesses, urged Congress to end legal conflict

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During Senate confirmation hearings on Tuesday, attorney general nominee William Barr stated that he would respect state cannabis laws and legal businesses when it comes to enforcing federal marijuana statutes. In response to questioning from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Barr stated that if confirmed, his “approach to this would be not to upset settled expectations and the reliant interests that have arisen as a result of the Cole memorandum.” Upon further questioning, he stated that he “is not going to go after companies that have relied on the Cole memorandum.”

The Cole memo, issued in 2014, directed federal prosecutors not to use resources to target businesses or individuals that were in compliance with state cannabis laws and met a set of public safety criteria. That guidance, which gave many businesses and state governments the confidence to move forward with implementing regulated cannabis markets, was rescinded in January 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“Mr. Barr is correct in acknowledging that many Americans rely on the legal cannabis industry and the successful state marijuana programs operating throughout the country today,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “His pledge not to use Department of Justice resources to undermine state laws provides assurance to over one hundred thousand cannabis industry employees, thousands of legal businesses, and the many state and local governments reliant upon marijuana tax revenue.”

During the hearing, Barr stated that he supports federal marijuana prohibition even though he would continue the policy of non-enforcement, but was critical of the disparity between state and federal law, calling on Congress to pass legislation that would address this issue.

“State marijuana laws are successfully replacing criminal markets with responsible small businesses and it is long past time for Congress to enact legislation that respects those laws,” continued Smith. “We will continue to work with lawmakers to make sure it is a priority during this session.”

Several comprehensive cannabis policy reform bills that would allow states to determine their own laws without federal interference are expected to be considered this year, including the STATES Act and the Marijuana Justice Act, as well as a number of other bills related to issues such as allowing banks to more easily work with cannabis businesses and reforming the tax code to treat the cannabis industry fairly.

Historic Farm Bill Allowing State Hemp Programs Signed Into Law

Historic Farm Bill Allowing State Hemp Programs Signed Into Law

States may now apply to start producing hemp and hemp-derived products under Department of Agriculture supervision

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the first time since the end of World War II, states may now create federally legal hemp programs under the 2018 farm bill, which President Trump signed into law today. The bipartisan Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and House last week, would allow states to submit plans created by their respective Secretaries of Agriculture in coordination with their governors and chief law enforcement officers to the Department of Agriculture to grow and process hemp and hemp-derived products.

“The lifting of the federal ban on non-psychoactive hemp is a concrete sign that the ‘reefer madness’ which first led to its criminalization is finally coming to an end,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “This Farm Bill is a step in the right direction for comprehensive cannabis policy reform and will help fuel discussions in Congress about the best ways to end federal prohibition and create a regulated national cannabis market.”

Under the new law, state applications would need to include methods for tracking land used for hemp production and audit producers to make sure that the hemp they are growing contains less than .3% THC. Programs would need to be approved by the Secretary of Agriculture in consultation with the Attorney General within 60 days of being submitted. States would not be permitted to ban the transportation of hemp and hemp products through their jurisdictions, but production and sales would only be permitted in states with approved programs.

The bill also contains a number of directives for research on hemp and hemp cultivation. These will help inform the Secretary of Agriculture in producing reports for Congress and eventually developing a standardized hemp production structure for all state applicants.

Hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) would be exempted from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in states with approved programs, but CBD will remain a Schedule 1 substance under the CSA and illegal at the federal level. The Farm Bill also does not impact the current Food & Drug Administration ban on CBD products or its ability to regulate the substance in the future.

The law prevents anyone with a drug-related felony from working in legal state hemp industries, hindering many people who have been impacted by the unequal enforcement of cannabis prohibition from participating in the economic opportunities created by new programs. However, a late compromise led to the inclusion of a 10-year sunset period from either the date of conviction or the start of the state program, whichever is more recent.

Legislation to Improve Marijuana Access for Veterans Introduced in Congress

Legislation to Improve Marijuana Access for Veterans Introduced in Congress

 

Three bills would change how Veterans Affairs deals with medical marijuana, improve training and research

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In observance of Veterans Day, a series of bills to expand access to medical cannabis for veterans were introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), a Marine Corps veteran who served four tours in Iraq, would facilitate research into current cannabis use by veterans, establish new policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that respect medical cannabis treatments, and provide medical cannabis training to primary care providers in the VA system.

“Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers,” said Rep. Moulton.  “Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana – including our veterans. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible. We also have an obligation to make sure our veterans are getting the best healthcare in the world.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs Survey of Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018 would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to seek to enter into an agreement with a federally funded research and development center to conduct surveys to measure cannabis use by veterans. The surveys would obtain information directly from patients as well as health care providers to determine current cannabis use and attitudes, symptoms or conditions treated, effects, and ingestion practices.

The second bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs Policy for Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018, would encourage veterans to discuss their cannabis use with health care providers in the VA system, and prevent discrimination or denial of treatment from the VA for veterans who consume cannabis or participate in legal state medical cannabis programs.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medicinal Cannabis Education Act of 2018 would require the VA to train all primary care providers in their system in the use of medical cannabis, as well as to partner with medical schools that include such training in their curriculums.

“For too long, our honored veterans have faced repeated hurdles when trying to access medical cannabis,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “The bills introduced by Rep. Moulton and Rep. Gaetz today will not only help them use the medicine that works for them but will move the VA closer to understanding medical cannabis, which is legal in a vast majority of the country and having a positive impact on the issues facing veterans every day.”

In November of last year, an American Legion poll showed overwhelming support for medical cannabis and increased research among veteran households.

There are now 47 states that allow cannabis to be used in some form. Thirty-three of those states have effective medical cannabis laws, and ten have laws making cannabis legal for adults.

Marijuana Ballot Measures Pass in Three States as Midterm Elections Pave the Way for Progress in 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

CONTACT:
Morgan Fox, Media Relations Director
216-334-9564Media@TheCannabisIndustry.org

Michigan becomes 10th state to make cannabis legal for adults, Missouri and Utah voters approve medical marijuana initiatives, and supporters of marijuana policy reform win races across the country  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 2018 midterm elections represent a major victory for marijuana policy reform advocates and the legal cannabis industry. Voters in Michigan approved a ballot measure Tuesday that will make cannabis legal and regulated for adults, making it the first Midwest state to legalize cannabis and setting the stage for regulated businesses to replace the illicit market there. Missouri and Utah approved medical cannabis ballot measures as well, providing access to effective medicine for millions of people and firmly solidifying a supermajority of states with robust medical marijuana laws. Voters in Missouri supported their medical cannabis initiative in greater numbers than the winning Republican Senate candidate, Attorney General Josh Hawley.

“This election proves that U.S. voters are ready and eager for comprehensive cannabis policy reform at the state and federal level,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “This is no longer a third-rail issue. Members of Congress need to listen to their constituents, allow states to determine their own cannabis policies, and start treating this burgeoning legal industry fairly. ”

With dozens of supportive congressional candidates winning on Tuesday and Democrats about to take control of key federal committees, advocates are confident that marijuana policy reform legislation will be actively considered in the House in the 2019 session. Bills to allow banks to more easily work with the cannabis industry and to address unfair federal taxation of cannabis are expected to make significant progress next year.

Voters in 12 states elected gubernatorial candidates that publicly support making cannabis legal for adults last night. Governors-elect Gavin Newsom in California, Jared Polis in Colorado, and J.B. Pritzker in Illinois all made marijuana policy reform a central issue in their campaigns.

Cannabis is now legal for adults in ten states and the District of Columbia, and 33 states have effective medical marijuana laws. Cannabis is legal in some form in 47 states.

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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.

Legal Marijuana Sales Begin in Canada – U.S. Industry Org Urges Congress to Follow

Canada Cannabis Legalization Takes Effect Today – National Cannabis Industry Association Urges Congress to End Prohibition or Fall Behind


Nation’s largest marijuana trade organization warns U.S. will be left behind in global market, joins Rep. Lou Correa and other members of Congress in call to end border policy that discriminates against cannabis professionals

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Canadian laws making marijuana legal for adults went into effect and licensed retail stores opened throughout the country on Wednesday, the U.S. cannabis industry is calling on federal lawmakers to do the same to avoid falling behind in the burgeoning global cannabis market. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the largest trade association for legal cannabis businesses in the U.S., is urging Congress to pass comprehensive marijuana policy reforms that would allow states to determine their own marijuana laws, provide safe harbor to financial institutions that want to work with cannabis businesses, address unfair taxation, promote social equity in the industry, and permit free trade. NCIA is also asking U.S. officials to follow the Canadian government’s lead in pardoning people with marijuana convictions.

“The evidence is clear that regulating marijuana works in the states that have done so, and we are about to see that on a national scale in our neighbor to the North,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “Congress needs to act now to level the playing field. Every moment they delay hurts American businesses and communities, and unnecessarily steers consumers to the criminal market.”

NCIA is also supporting efforts led by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) to change current Customs & Border Protection policy which prevents Canadians who are involved in the legal cannabis industry from traveling in the U.S. on business, even to states where cannabis is legal. Rep. Correa announced on Wednesday that he is gaining support from bipartisan members of Congress requesting that the Department of Homeland Security end this policy immediately.

“This sort of discrimination against the cannabis industry is outrageous,” continued Smith. “If people in any other legal industry were treated like this, or if it were Canada denying entry to U.S. citizens based on their professions, there would be national outcry.”

NCIA’s report titled “How the U.S. is Falling Behind in the Regulated Global Cannabis Market,” explains how a lack of federal regulation and the inability to expand beyond state borders means U.S. cannabis companies are constrained in their ability to grow and are at a competitive disadvantage to cannabis companies in other countries, with Canada and Israel being the most prominent examples.

The launch of Canada’s legal marijuana program comes as residents of four states prepare to vote on cannabis ballot initiatives in November, and as the issue plays an increasingly important role in politics. Michigan and North Dakota are poised to become the next states to make marijuana legal and regulated for adults, and medical marijuana initiatives will be on the ballots in Missouri and Utah.

National Cannabis Industry Association Releases Congressional Scorecard Ahead of Midterm Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

CONTACT:
Morgan Fox, National Cannabis Industry Association
216-334-9564Media@TheCannabisIndustry.org

National Cannabis Industry Association Releases Congressional Scorecard Ahead of Midterm Elections

Report judges members of Congress by position on marijuana-related appropriations amendments voted on in House since 2014 and current sponsorship of marijuana legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With midterm elections less than a month away, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) released a Congressional Scorecard today to inform voters across the country on how their elected representatives have voted on marijuana issues. The scorecard provides the voting history of members of the House of Representatives on marijuana-related appropriations amendments that were considered between 2014 and 2016 as well as identifying cosponsors of the legal cannabis industry’s priority legislation in both the House and Senate

The six specific pieces of legislation that were considered in the scoring were to prevent expenditure of federal funds to interfere with state laws related to hemp production, medical marijuana, adult use cannabis programs, and cannabidiol (CBD); provide safe harbor to financial institutions to work with the legal cannabis industry; and allow doctors in the Veterans Affairs system to discuss cannabis with their patients and recommend it under applicable state laws.

The full scorecard is available at https://www.thecannabisindustry.org/2018scorecard.

“As more and more states move toward ending cannabis prohibition, it is becoming increasingly important for voters to know if their federal representatives are working to protect and promote their states’ successful medical and adult-use marijuana programs,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We hope they will take a hard look at this scorecard, back the lawmakers who support common-sense cannabis policy reform, and hold those who are undermining their constituents accountable.”

The Congressional Scorecard follows the release of NCIA’s latest report, “The New Politics of Marijuana: A Winning Opportunity for Either Party,” which highlights the unprecedented voter support for marijuana policy reform and the legal cannabis industry, and how it will impact current and future elections nationwide.

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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.

New Report Highlights Political Opportunities for Candidates Embracing the New Reality of Marijuana Legalization

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

CONTACT:
Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association
(303) 223-9727Communications@TheCannabisIndustry.org

 

National Cannabis Industry Association Calls on Candidates to Support Popular Reforms in Advance of Midterm Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association Released a report today describing the growing popularity of marijuana policy reform and the political benefits candidates in either party could reap by embracing the issue.

NCIA’s “The New Politics of Marijuana: A Winning Opportunity for Either Party,” provides an overview of recent polling data and electoral wins for cannabis reforms in the United States. The report highlights the solid majority support for legalization in nearly every state where polling on this issue has been conducted over the last year. 

The industry association’s report also finds that support for cannabis reform crosses nearly all political demographics with a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters supporting adult-use legalization. Most striking is the support among younger voters for marijuana reforms, citing Pew Research data showing support for legalization among millennials at 70% overall and 63% among Republican millennials.

“The failed experiment of marijuana prohibition is almost over and voters are clearly recognizing the benefits of replacing illegal marijuana markets with well-regulated, responsible businesses,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Policymakers on both sides of the aisle are beginning to wake up to this reality and candidates who fully embrace the issue this election cycle will reap the political benefits for years to come.”

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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.

Marijuana Research Bill Approved in House Judiciary Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 13, 2018

CONTACT:
Michael Correia, National Cannabis Industry Association
202-599-9742Media@TheCannabisIndustry.org

 

Marijuana Research Bill Approved in House Judiciary Committee

Markup of the Republican-backed bill represents first time the committee has considered marijuana policy reform legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation designed to facilitate increased federally-approved research into the potential medical benefits of marijuana. The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 (H.R. 5634), which was originally introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and currently has 40 cosponsors, passed in a voice vote.

The bill would increase the number of federally-approved research cannabis manufacturers from one to three. It would also create a pathway for state-approved private cannabis cultivators to provide material to researchers, and requires the Attorney General to annually assess whether the approved supply is adequate to meet research requests. In addition, the legislation clarifies that medical professionals in the Dept. of Veterans Affairs are able to inform their patients about cannabis trials, receive information about ongoing research, and may take part in such research.

This vote represents the first time that the House Judiciary Committee has been willing to consider marijuana policy reform legislation.

“The experiences of the states with medical cannabis laws and the millions of patients helped by those programs have proven that cannabis is an effective medicine, but federal research has always lagged behind. This markup represents a big step toward increasing our base of knowledge about cannabis, but more importantly, it shows that Congress is willing to look at the issue fairly and scientifically,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We commend Rep. Gaetz for introducing this bill and for working so hard to make sure it was seriously considered by the Judiciary Committee.”

Despite the overall benefits provided by the bill, advocates are concerned about several compromise provisions that were added to the original language. A ban on people with marijuana convictions being involved in studies would prevent many of the most skilled and knowledgeable individuals from adding their expertise to research efforts and would disproportionately impact people of color. Legitimate study would be further impeded by requiring production facilities to be pre-approved by law enforcement, who have traditionally opposed efforts to increase research into cannabis.

“The restrictions contained in the Medical Cannabis Research Act are well-meaning but totally unnecessary and do nothing to improve public safety or research efficacy,” Smith continued. “We are hopeful that reasonable debate and Rep. Gaetz’s leadership on this issue will convince lawmakers to remove them before passing this bill.”

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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.

 

 

Bill to Ensure Safe Harbor to Medical Cannabis for Veterans Introduced in Senate

Bill to Ensure Safe Harbor to Medical Cannabis for Veterans Introduced in Senate

Legislation will make it easier for veterans to access cannabis for medical purposes, allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients, and facilitate new study on cannabis and pain in veterans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

CONTACT:
Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association
303-223-3554Media@TheCannabisIndustry.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill introduced in the Senate on Wednesday would remove some of the barriers making it difficult for veterans to access medical cannabis programs in their states. The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), would allow veterans to use, possess, or transport cannabis as permitted by state law without fear of federal prosecution, and would allow doctors in the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) system to recommend medical cannabis to their patients. It also calls on the VA to commence a study into the effects of cannabis on pain in veterans within two years of passage, and allocates $15 million for that purpose.

“People who have served their country should have an easier time accessing the medicine that works for them, not harder,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “More ability to participate in state-legal cannabis programs with the help of their own doctors will improve quality of life for many veterans, and hopefully increase their interest in taking part in the rapidly expanding legal cannabis industry. We hope that the rest of Congress will support this legislation and help protect those who protect us.”

While veterans are not explicitly disallowed from becoming registered medical cannabis patients, doctors in the VA are not able to provide the recommendations or paperwork required to be eligible for medical cannabis programs in states where it is legal. This forces veterans who could find relief from cannabis to find doctors outside of the VA system at their own cost, which can often be prohibitively expensive, particularly for those dealing with disabilities.

“The Veterans Cannabis Coalition supports the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act because it aims to end an absurd catch-22 that veterans who medicate with cannabis find themselves in—where the federal government criminalizes them for possession, hinders them in talking to their VA doctors about cannabis, and blocks nearly all research into cannabis’ medical efficacy,” said Eric Goepel, founder and CEO of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition. “This state of affairs is preventing millions of veterans from accessing a substance that anecdotal, observational, and clinical evidence all indicate possesses incredible medical value in treating some of the most common injuries and conditions veterans must manage. We appreciate Senator Schatz’s leadership on this issue and look forward to building support for veteran access to cannabis in the Senate.”

The vast majority of states with effective medical cannabis laws include chronic or severe pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as qualifying conditions, both of which are common and serious concerns for the veteran community. In addition, growing evidence is showing that cannabis can be an effective and objectively safer alternative to opioids.

An American Legion poll released in October 2017 showed that 82% of veterans think cannabis should be a federally legal treatment, and 92% support increased research into medical cannabis.

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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.

 

National Cannabis Industry Association Responds to Report of Federal Efforts to Discredit State Legalization

National Cannabis Industry Association Responds to Report of Federal Committee Directed to Discredit State Reforms, Ignore Positive Impacts of Legalizing Marijuana

 

Washington, D.C. –  On Wednesday, an article published in Buzzfeed News revealed details of a task force that was ostensibly created to inform the President on marijuana policy issues that are concerning to policy experts, state-licensed businesses, and advocates. The article contains internal memos that direct federal agencies to ignore data that shows positive impacts from regulating marijuana. These memos also ask those agencies to submit data which could be interpreted negatively, as well as instances and anecdotes that could be used to discredit legal cannabis programs.

“The directives given to this committee are biased, unscientific, and fly in the face of statements made by the President during his campaign and up to the present that he supports allowing states to determine their own marijuana policies without federal interference,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “This is an unfortunate example of staff within the administration exaggerating potential negatives associated with legalization while ignoring the clear benefits of regulation, and discounting the harms caused by the outdated policies of prohibition.”

In May, NCIA released a State Progress Report that details the impacts of legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults, and covers topics including public safety, teen use and availability, economic impact, and potential effects on the nation’s opioid crisis.

“We are confident that the available data, when viewed objectively, clearly shows that regulating cannabis works,” continued Smith. “By just about every measure, state programs have been widely successful at replacing prohibition with sound regulations, in spite of federal prohibition. These voter-supported programs will continue to expand, regardless of the outdated opinions some may have within the federal government.”

Last month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced a bill that would mandate a wide-reaching study on the impacts of legalization and continued prohibition at the state and federal level.

“We look forward to a study conducted by an independent federal agency that isn’t invested in continuing marijuana prohibition,” said Smith.

National Cannabis Industry Association Board of Directors Selects Executive Team

National Cannabis Industry Association Board of Directors Selects Executive Team

 

Newly-elected board members join association Board and appoint officers for 2018-19 term

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the country’s largest cannabis trade association and industry advocacy organization, officially seated its newly-elected Board of Directors following the association’s member-driven board election.

The election, which concluded in June, brought on three new board members. Mark Passerini is the co-founder of Om of Medicine, a Michigan medical cannabis dispensary that has the distinction of being the only dispensary in the country to partner with a major university via the University of Michigan, and the first board member elected from that state. Michael Steinmetz is the CEO and founder of Flow Kana, one of California’s most innovative companies dedicated to sustainability and empowering small craft cannabis farmers. Taylor West is the former deputy director of NCIA and current senior communications director for COHNNABIS, a full-service brand, marketing, digital, and public relations agency dedicated to the unique needs of the cannabis industry.

A full list of Board members and their bios is available here.

NCIA is also announcing the new Board of Directors Executive Team that will help guide the organization in its continuing federal lobbying efforts and development of valuable resources for the cannabis business community. The Chair is AC Braddock, CEO of cannabis extraction technology company Eden Labs and a recognized thought leader in the cannabis industry, as well as the supporting founder of several cannabis women’s groups. The Vice-chair is Khurshid Khoja, principal of Greenbridge Corporate Counsel, a boutique business law firm founded in 2012, which represents clientele in California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii from across numerous sectors in the legal cannabis industry, on regulatory, start‐up, corporate, intellectual property, finance, and other commercial and transactional matters. The Treasurer is Kris Krane, the founder and managing partner at 4Front Ventures, a cannabis consulting firm that is dedicated to ensuring the highest standards of operations and compliance in the industry. The Secretary and General Counsel to the Board is Henry Wykowski, a San Francisco-based trial attorney representing numerous cannabis dispensaries throughout California in tax matters, including a landmark case which positively impacted cannabis businesses throughout the state.

“My first experience lobbying in D.C. was in 2014 with NCIA and it restored my faith in the power of individual and collective voices in our political system,” said AC Braddock. “This organization represents the very fiber of entrepreneurship and socially responsible small businesses in this country and what we can do when united. I am so looking forward to what we will accomplish in the next few years and beyond.”

“This is likely to be a momentous year for cannabis policy reform at the federal level, with NCIA’s years of advocacy in the Capitol bearing visible fruit in the form of increased congressional and executive branch support on various pieces of critical legislation,” added Khurshid Khoja. “It is a pleasure and an honor to help lead an organization that is the tip of the cannabis industry’s spear in the effort to win federal legalization.”

On top of being the nation’s most established organization lobbying for fair taxation and banking access for the cannabis industry and an end to cannabis prohibition, NCIA is dedicated to ensuring equity in the industry through policy and culture and has established an events scholarship program to promote those values. In addition, the organization will continue producing resources that will be useful for the cannabis industry and policymakers. In conjunction with its members and industry experts, NCIA released publications last week offering recommendations for cannabis testing policy and providing guidance to cannabis businesses for dealing with crisis communications.

“We are proud of our members for getting involved and electing effective and passionate industry leaders to our Board,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The next year is going to be both exciting and challenging in federal cannabis policy and industry development, and we are lucky to have such dedicated individuals helping us change laws and provide value to our members.”

New Guides for Cannabis Testing Policy and Industry Crisis Communications Introduced at Cannabis Business Summit This Week

New Guides for Cannabis Testing Policy and Industry Crisis Communications Introduced at Cannabis Business Summit This Week

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), in conjunction with its members and industry experts, is releasing publications this week offering recommendations for cannabis testing policy and providing guidance to cannabis businesses for dealing with crisis communications.

NCIA’s Policy Council released a white paper that details a set of 16 recommendations related to cannabis testing policy. These recommendations will be used to inform policy-makers at the state and federal levels. The Policy Council convened a group of testing experts and other individuals engaged in the cannabis industry in order to ensure the recommendations were informed by a broad range of experiences and opinions. The full document is available here.

“As both an NCIA Board member and a member of the Policy Council, I am really excited about the Council’s work,” said Kurshid Khoja, principal at Greenbridge Corporate Counsel. “Somewhat under the radar, the Policy Council is establishing itself as the think tank for the cannabis industry. On topics ranging from tax policy to pesticides to international competition, the Policy Council is churning out quality papers to raise awareness and educate policy makers in DC. With the release of its testing policy recommendations this week, the Policy Council is demonstrating that it could also help shape policy on the state level.”

NCIA’s Crisis Manual Subcommittee of the Marketing and Advertising Committee also released a manual describing best practices in crisis communications in the cannabis industry. This document will help businesses identify, avoid, prepare for, and respond to potential public and private communications issues within the cannabis industry, as well as those that typically impact any industry. The full manual is available here.

“As wonderful as cannabis is, we’ll face a crisis together as an industry way too soon.  When it happens, the key will be how we respond to it,” said Jeanine Moss, Crisis Manual Subcommittee Chair of NCIA’s Marketing & Advertising Committee. “That’s why we think it is so important for NCIA members to have an easy and practical guide that can not only help protect businesses during a crisis, but also the industry as a whole. This manual will help businesses prevent problems, keep issues from spiraling out of control, and share positive messages during times of stress.”

Both guides will be presented this week during the Cannabis Business Summit® & Expo, NCIA’s flagship annual event. This event is the nation’s largest cannabis industry conference and was recently awarded the top spot on Trade Show Executive’s annual “Fastest 50” list, honoring the 50 fastest-growing annual trade shows of the year.

Online registration for the Cannabis Business Summit® & Expo is available here. Registration closes at midnight, July 24.

Senate Democratic Leader Introduces Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

New legislation would remove cannabis from Controlled Substances Act, joins other bills calling for states to choose own policies

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill which would remove marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances, allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies without fear of federal interference. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) announced his intention to file the bill in late April following statements by the Trump administration signaling that it would support legislation that would leave cannabis policy to the states.

The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, cosponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), would specifically remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies without the threat of interference. The bill also provides funding to cannabis businesses owned by women and people of color through the Small Business Administration; funds studies on traffic safety, impairment detection technology, and health effects of cannabis; restricts advertising that could appeal to children; and sets aside $100 million over five years to help states develop streamlined procedures for expunging or sealing prior cannabis convictions.

“We commend Senator Schumer for joining the growing chorus of Congressional leaders stepping forward with alternatives to the failed prohibition of marijuana,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “With millions of Americans already living in states that successfully regulate adult-use cannabis and support for national legalization at record levels, this legislation would finally align federal marijuana policies with mainstream voter sentiment.”

This is the second comprehensive cannabis policy reform bill introduced this month. On June 7, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the STATES Act, which creates exemptions in the Controlled Substances Act for states that have made cannabis legal for medical or adult use. There are several other pieces of cannabis-related legislation also being considered in Congress.

The introduction of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act also comes a day after voters in Oklahoma approved a medical cannabis ballot initiative, making it the 30th state with an effective medical cannabis law.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in April found 63% of Americans support legalizing marijuana and 70% oppose federal interference with state-authorized cannabis programs. Cannabis is legal for adults in nine states and the District of Columbia, and there are currently 46 states that allow cannabis in some form.

Oklahoma Voters Approve Medical Cannabis Initiative

State to become 30th in nation with an effective medical cannabis law

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – On Tuesday, voters in Oklahoma approved a measure that will make medical cannabis legal in the state with over 56% popular support. The referendum, known as SQ 788, would allow patients to use medical cannabis to treat their conditions with a recommendation from their doctor. The initiative calls on the state to establish rules governing the licensing and regulation of facilities to cultivate, process, and dispense medical cannabis, and allows patients to cultivate limited amounts of medical cannabis at home.

“In spite of a well-financed and misleading opposition campaign, Oklahoma voters proved that medical cannabis is no longer a controversial issue by enacting a sensible law at the ballot box tonight,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “We applaud Oklahoma for joining the growing list of states that allow patients to legally access the medicine that works for them.”

The passage of SQ 788 marks the first time that a state medical cannabis ballot initiative has been approved by voters in an electoral primary. Observers were skeptical of the initiative passing in an unprecedented election cycle, particularly given strong and well-funded efforts from opponents to the referendum in the months before the vote.

“The passage of this law is not only a great victory for some of the Sooner State’s most vulnerable citizens – it will also create new business opportunities as the state’s underground market for medical cannabis is replaced by licensed businesses with the potential to create thousands of jobs and millions in new tax revenue,” continued Smith. “We are confident that the standards of professionalism and quality care that have become synonymous with the legal medical cannabis industry will be repeated here for the benefit of seriously ill residents throughout the state.”

With the addition of Oklahoma, there are now effective medical cannabis laws in 30 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. A total of 46 states allow for the medical use of cannabis in some form.

NCIA Launches ‘Allied Associations Program’ to Coordinate with Local Trade Organizations

New program will provide participants with training and education and help bring regional issues into the national cannabis policy conversation

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association is pleased to announce the official launch of its new Allied Associations Program (AAP) designed to facilitate cooperation and assistance to state and local trade organizations representing the cannabis industry. The AAP provides the means for the leaders and staffs of NCIA and Allied Associations to learn from, work with, and support each other in their mutual efforts to build the cannabis industry within the states and across the country.

The ultimate goal of the AAP is to develop closer relationships between NCIA with state, local, and sector-specific trade associations to harness our collective knowledge, and work together to advance the cannabis industry. As the only national trade association for the cannabis industry, NCIA is uniquely qualified and positioned to help those trade associations thrive and be as effective as possible for their memberships.

Allied Associations will be able to participate in complimentary workshops and information sessions hosted by NCIA, as well as monthly updates on NCIA’s work and any relevant legal or policy updates. Organizations will receive complimentary tickets to NCIA’s regular events and will get exclusive discount codes to all events to share with their members. The first workshop will take place during the upcoming 5th Annual Cannabis Business Summit in San Jose, CA on July 25-27.

As part of the AAP launch, NCIA’s two state affiliates — California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) and NCIA of Ohio (NCIAO) — are transitioning into the program as founding members. Members of CCIA and NCIAO are encouraged to maintain memberships with both NCIA and their state associations in order to continue supporting the important work each organization is doing to defend cannabis businesses and to enjoy the membership benefits offered by of both.

“CCIA is excited to help launch the new Allied Association Program with NCIA,” said Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association. “Ever since California’s regulatory roll out, we have been considering the best way to focus our efforts on building a successful industry in our state and we welcome this opportunity to further align our work with the goals and objectives of our members.”

“Transitioning into the Allied Associations Program will provide NCIA of Ohio the flexibility needed to address the problems facing Ohio’s program as it prepares to launch,” said Thomas Rosenberger, executive director of NCIA of Ohio. “We’re excited for the opportunities this program will provide and look forward to working with NCIA and other Allied Associations to further advance the cannabis industry.”

Organizations that have already become Allied Associations include the Marijuana Industry Trade Association of Arizona (MITA AZ), Association of Cannabis Professionals (ACP), Texas Cannabis Industry Association (TCIA), Missouri Cannabis Industry Association, Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association (LVMMA), Louisiana Cannabis Association, Craft Cannabis Alliance (CCA), Coachella Valley Cannabis Alliance Network (CVCAN), Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association (ORCA), The Cannabis Alliance (The Alliance), Washington Sungrowers Industry Association (WSIA), California Growers Association (CGA), California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA), NCIA of Ohio, and Asian Americans for Cannabis Education.

National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit Is 2018’s Fastest-Growing Annual Trade Show in America

NCIA and Event Partner GSMI Take #1 Spot in Trade Show Executive’s Fastest 50 Award List

 

Washington, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit™ & Expo is officially the fastest-growing annual trade show in the United States, according to Trade Show Executive.

The Cannabis Business Summit, NCIA’s flagship annual event, was awarded the top spot on Trade Show Executive’s annual “Fastest 50” list, honoring the 50 fastest-growing annual trade shows of the year. From 2016 to 2017, the Summit increased paid exhibit space by 59.6% and the number of exhibitors by 53.3%.

“From the beginning, we’ve built the Cannabis Business Summit to be the highest-value event for cannabis industry leaders – in business, in education, and in advocacy,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA.. “This award confirms that we’re succeeding in fostering the critical intersection of commerce, policy, and community it takes for our industry to grow, and grow the right way.”

The Summit celebrates its fifth anniversary this year and has long been known as the most influential event in the cannabis industry. NCIA recently announced that James Cole, former deputy attorney general of the United States and author of the ‘Cole Memo,’ which fundamentally shifted the landscape for legal cannabis businesses in America, will be the featured keynote speaker at this year’s event.

The 2018 Cannabis Business Summit is expected to draw more than 7,500 cannabis industry professionals to San Jose, Calif., July 25-27.

NCIA shares the award with its event management partner, the Global Strategic Management Institute (GSMI).

Trade Show Executive awarded the “Fastest-Growing Annual Show” designation to the Cannabis Business Summit based on percentage of growth in net square feet of paid exhibit space and number of exhibiting companies.

Rep. Barbara Lee Introduces Measure Supporting Equity in the Legal Cannabis Industry

  

Resolution urges state and local governments to institute policies to increase access to cannabis business licenses for communities most harmed by prohibition

  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A resolution decrying the racial disparities in cannabis enforcement and urging improved access to cannabis business licensing for marginalized communities in states where it is legal was introduced in the House of Representatives today by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

The Realizing Equitable & Sustainable Participation in Emerging Cannabis Trades (RESPECT) Resolution brings attention to the racially discriminatory enforcement of marijuana prohibition, and recognizes that the people most harmed by prohibition benefit the least from some of the state and local policies regulating the cannabis market.

The resolution urges state and local leaders to implement a series of practices when granting licenses for legal cannabis businesses to improve access for these communities to the nascent industry, such as minimal application and license fees, no caps on the number of licenses, increased local control of the licensing process, and removing broad felony and cannabis convictions as automatic disqualifiers for participation. It also suggests methods to help undo some of the harms caused by prohibition, including a cost-free process for expunging past marijuana convictions, using cannabis tax revenue to benefit small businesses and marginalized communities, ensuring local cannabis regulatory bodies are representative of their communities, and creating legal spaces for social consumption.

“We commend Congresswoman Lee for bringing attention to the unjust and racially disparate harms caused by prohibition enforcement and the need for equal access to opportunities created by the burgeoning cannabis industry as more and more states move away from the old policies of prohibition,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).

On May 23, Rep. Lee joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers for a press conference at the U.S. Capitol hosted by NCIA to speak about the need for the cannabis industry to be treated fairly and regulated in a manner that encourages participation by people of color.

Senate Committee Approves Medical Cannabis Protections in Appropriations Spending Bill

Senate Committee Approves Medical Cannabis Protections in Appropriations Spending Bill

 

Historic move is first time provision to protect state medical cannabis programs from federal interference has been included in original Senate legislation; language was amended to previous spending bills since 2014

 

Washington, D.C. –  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation that would renew protections for state medical cannabis programs when the current spending budget expires in September. The language, which was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), prevents the Department of Justice from using any resources to target medical cannabis patients or providers who are in compliance with state laws.

This is the first time that this provision has been included in the original language of the spending bill by either chamber of Congress. Originally added to the federal budget in 2014, this restriction was consistently renewed as an amendment by the Senate or House Appropriations Committees or a continuing resolution in subsequent budgets, most recently in March. Current protections are set to expire on September 30 unless the new spending bill is approved or the current budget is extended.

“Once again, members of Congress have signaled that protecting state-legal medical cannabis is no longer a controversial issue,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “From protecting state medical cannabis programs from being targeted by federal law enforcement to growing support for allowing banks to work with the cannabis industry, lawmakers are increasingly unwilling to waste taxpayer money interfering with legal and responsible cannabis businesses.”

Last month, similar medical cannabis protections were amended to the House Appropriations spending bill in a committee vote.

Cannabis is legal in some form for medical purposes in 46 states. A Quinnipiac University poll released in April showed that 93% of voters support legal access to medical cannabis and 70% oppose enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have approved cannabis for medical or adult use.

Bipartisan Legislation Seeking to Protect State-Legal Marijuana Programs Introduced Today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 7, 2018

CONTACT:
Morgan Fox, Media Relations Director
202-780-1302, Morgan@TheCannabisIndustry.org

 

Historic Bipartisan Legislation Seeking to Protect State-Legal Marijuana Programs Introduced Today

 

Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Offer Comprehensive Solution to Federal Conflict with Cannabis Laws in 46 States and the District of Columbia  

 

Washington, DC – Bipartisan Senate legislation that would end the federal conflict with state marijuana laws was introduced today, amid growing public support for the legal cannabis industry.

The bipartisan legislation, Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018, would exempt individuals in compliance with state marijuana laws and a set of new federal guidelines from certain provisions of the federal Controlled Substances Act. The legislation, announced in a press conference Thursday by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), does not remove federal criminal penalties for illicit marijuana behavior but would end federal interference with state and tribal laws that have regulated the production, sale, and personal consumption of cannabis for medical patients and adults age 21 and older.

A bipartisan companion bill was also introduced by Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in the House.

“State-level marijuana reforms are successfully replacing criminal markets with tightly regulated businesses that contribute hundreds of millions in tax revenue and generate tens of thousands of jobs. This legislation allows states to make their own decisions on how cannabis is treated within their borders and would be an important step toward protecting the legal businesses that make up one of the nation’s fastest growing industries,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), in support of the bill. “Now that a majority of congressional representatives hail from states with some form of legal cannabis, we look forward to the passage of this important legislation so that states will no longer fear federal interference with their successful cannabis programs and our industry can reach its full potential as an alternative to underground markets.”

A Quinnipiac University poll released in April found 63% of Americans support legalizing marijuana and 70% oppose federal interference with state-authorized cannabis programs. Sen. Gardner announced in April that President Trump indicated that he would sign legislation supporting states’ rights on the issue.

The introduction of this landmark bill comes just two weeks after NCIA’s 8th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days, the largest Washington, D.C. fly-in for the legal marijuana industry. Over 200 cannabis industry professionals participated in hundreds of meetings with congressional offices to advocate in support of proposed federal marijuana reforms.

PRESS RELEASE: Members of Congress Join Cannabis Business Leaders at Nation’s Capitol to Advocate for Federal Marijuana Policy Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

CONTACT:
Morgan Fox, Media Relations Director
216-334-9564, Communications@TheCannabisIndustry.org

Members of Congress Join Cannabis Business Leaders at Nation’s Capitol to Advocate for Federal Marijuana Policy Reform

Cannabis industry conducting national lobbying this week to advocate for state-regulated cannabis programs and equitable treatment for legal businesses

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, cannabis business leaders with the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) joined members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol to draw attention to the success of regulated legal cannabis programs around the country and to advocate for policy reforms to protect the legal industry.

Lawmakers including Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Matthew Gaetz (R-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Lou Correa (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Jared Polis (D-CO) voiced their support for preventing the federal government from prosecuting businesses operating in compliance with state laws, as well as current legislative efforts to open access to financial services, create parity in the tax code for legal cannabis businesses, end racial disparity in marijuana enforcement, and expand access to medical cannabis for our nation’s veterans.

This event coincides with NCIA’s 8th Annual Lobby Days, during which more than 200 cannabis industry leaders representing 23 states and the District of Columbia met with hundreds of congressional offices to discuss the success of legal cannabis programs and promote policies that will end governmental discrimination against their industry.

“The states have already proven that replacing the criminal marijuana markets with tightly-regulated and transparent small businesses is working,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Now the responsibility falls on Congress to reform federal laws so that the legal cannabis industry can be treated fairly, like any other legitimate business sector in the U.S.”

Also on Wednesday, NCIA is releasing a new report analyzing the progress made in states where cannabis is legal for medical and adult use. The report provides a detailed look at the economic and social impact of legal cannabis programs, success in reducing access for minors, ways to address continuing racial disparity in marijuana enforcement as well as access to legal business opportunities, and the need for fairness in banking and tax policy.

The full report is available at https://thecannabisindustry.org/2018StateProgressReport.

To arrange interviews with Cannabis Industry Lobby Days participants or NCIA staff, please contactcommunications@thecannabisindustry.org.

NEXT WEEK: Cannabis Business Leaders Participate in National Advocacy Day for Legal Marijuana

MEDIA ADVISORY
Friday, May 18, 2018

CONTACT:
Morgan Fox, Media Relations Director
216-334-9564, Communications@TheCannabisIndustry.org

NEXT WEEK: Cannabis Business Leaders Participate in National Advocacy Day for Legal Marijuana

Washington, D.C. –  Next week, more than 200 cannabis industry leaders from across the country will descend upon Washington, D.C. for the National Cannabis Industry Association’s 8th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days. Over the course of the two-day event, citizen lobby meetings will be held with Congressional offices to discuss the positive economic and social impact that regulating cannabis markets has already had on states with modern marijuana laws and advocate for the fair treatment of the legal businesses created by those laws.

On Wednesday, May 23 at 9:30 AM EDT, cannabis business owners and members of Congress will hold a press conference at the House Triangle. They will discuss efforts to harmonize federal laws with the legal marijuana programs on the books in 46 states and the District of Columbia, including legislation to open access to financial services and create parity in the tax code for state-licensed cannabis businesses.

SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, May 23 – 9:30-10:00 AM ET
Press Conference with Congressional Leaders and Legal Cannabis Professionals
House Triangle (House side of the Capitol’s East Front)
Washington, D.C. 20016
Members of the media may RSVP to communications@thecannabisindustry.org

Meetings between cannabis business leaders and congressional offices will take place throughout the day on both Tuesday, May 22 and Wednesday, May 23. Meetings are generally closed to the media. For other coverage options or to arrange interviews with attendees or NCIA staff, please contact communications@thecannabisindustry.org.

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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.