By Bethany Moore
September 14, 2022
/ Community
/ Education

Over a hundred Cannabis Business Leaders to Advocate for Federal Reform During 10th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days

DATE: Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Aaron Smith, CEO and Co-founder
(303) 223-3554
Bethany Moore, Director of Communications
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Over a hundred Cannabis Business Leaders to Advocate for Federal Reform During 10th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days

National Cannabis Industry Association members are meeting with Congressional representatives to press for passage of the SAFE Banking Act and raise awareness of issues facing small cannabis businesses. 

Washington, DC – Cannabis business leaders from across the country are convening in Washington, D.C., for the National Cannabis Industry Association’s 10th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days Wednesday, September 14. Over the course of the day, over 100 meetings will be held with Congressional representatives to discuss the negative impact outdated federal prohibition policies have on the legal cannabis industry, which is a rapidly growing sector of the U.S. economy. 

The fly-in takes place amid continued support for regulated marijuana markets, which now include 37 states with some form of medical cannabis laws, and 19 states with adult-use cannabis laws. Lobby Days participants will be advocating for the passage of the SAFE Banking Act (S. 910) in the Senate. The legislation, which has been approved by the House seven times, would provide safe harbor to financial institutions that bank legal cannabis businesses.

Current federal banking regulations have forced much of the legal cannabis industry to operate on a cash-only basis and have led to a rise in predatory lending, as industry operators are left without traditional financing options. Advocates are hopeful that the Senate will take action to resolve these issues by passing the SAFE Banking Act before the end of the year.

“Every legal business deserves the same access to the same resources as any other — resources like bank accounts, loans, payment processing, and so much more,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). “When it comes to cannabis, the country is changing fast and it’s long past time that our federal laws caught up. With more and more states across the country voting to change their cannabis laws, we cannot keep forcing these legitimate businesses to operate entirely with cash. This is a nonsensical rule that is an open invitation to robbery and money laundering. Let’s make 2022 the year that we get this bill signed into law so we can ensure that all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to help keep their employees and communities safe.”

“This is a public safety issue — when legal Montana cannabis businesses don’t have a way to safely conduct business and are forced to operate in all cash our communities become vulnerable to crime. Our bipartisan bill provides the needed certainty for Montana businesses to freely use banks, credit unions and other financial institutions without worrying about punishment,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT). “I stand with the attorneys general across America that want to increase public safety and reduce crime — it’s time we pass our bipartisan SAFE Banking Act.

“Nine years after first introducing legislation to allow cannabis businesses access to the banking system, the $25 billion industry is still forced to operate primarily in cash. That’s not right. We need to save lives and create a more equitable industry, and in order to do so, the Senate needs to pass SAFE Banking,” added lead House SAFE Banking Act author, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO). “From now until the end of the year, there’s a real opportunity to take a meaningful first step in enacting some sort of commonsense cannabis reform. I implore my colleagues in the Senate to do so.”

“The legal cannabis industry proudly promotes public health and safety but outdated federal banking policies put our employees and customers in harm’s way by forcing much of the industry to operate exclusively in cash while also unfairly limiting access to capital and financing options, which disproportionately impacts small and minority-owned businesses,” stated Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association CEO and co-founder. “The SAFE Banking Act enjoys broad bipartisan support because it is sensible, narrowly-crafted legislation that simply harmonizes federal banking policy with the laws on the books in the vast majority of U.S. states which allow for some form of legal cannabis access. The Senate needs to take swift action and pass this legislation which is widely supported by a super majority of Americans across the political spectrum.”

A recent Pew Research Center poll found that less than 10% of Americans still support marijuana prohibition, with 60% wanting cannabis legal for medical and adult-use and 31% supporting legalization for medical use only. 

The Cannabis Industry Lobby Days will include a press conference with business leaders and members of Congress at the Senate Swamp on Wednesday, September 14 at 12:30 PM (EDT). National Cannabis Industry Association staff and members will be available to the media throughout the two days. Speakers include Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), NCIA CEO Aaron Smith, and various industry voices including social equity operators.

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The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only one representing small cannabis businesses at the national level. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible, sustainable, and inclusive cannabis industry and works for a favorable social, economic, and regulatory environment for that industry throughout the United States.

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NCIA is leading the cannabis industry's unified and coordinated campaign to ensure our business sector is treated fairly and has the opportunity to reach its full potential. Now - more than ever - is the time to invest in your business and the future of the industry by becoming a member.

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