June 29-July 1: NCIA Hosts the 2nd Annual Cannabis Business Summit in Denver

The most influential marijuana business conference and trade show in the industry returns, featuring industry leaders, federal lawmakers, and three days of in-depth education

DENVER, CO – The National Cannabis Industry Association, the only national trade association representing the businesses of the legal marijuana industry, will hold its second annual national conference, the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, from June 29 through July 1 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.

The Summit will offer cannabis business leaders three days of in-depth discussions and workshops, exploring business best practices, cutting-edge technological advances, and marijuana policy developments on both the state and federal levels. Three Members of Congress – Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) – are confirmed to participate in the Summit or the popular Cannabis Carnival benefit concert taking place on June 30.

The Cannabis Business Summit is positioned for business owners and operators across multiple verticals in the cannabis industry. Several topic-oriented tracks will give attendees the opportunity to focus on their area of expertise. Tracks offered include: Running Your Cannabusiness; Cultivation and Processing; Money Matters: Finance, Accounting and Insurance; and The Law, Policy and Reform; as well as Emerging Topics offering attendees an open forum to discuss industry updates and trends. Featured educational sessions will highlight some of the industry’s leading pioneers and innovators.

More information about the Cannabis Business Summit, including a full list of speakers and a detailed agenda, can be found at CannabisBusinessSummit.com.

Media passes for the Cannabis Business Summit may be requested by emailing communications@thecannabisindustry.org. Please include the full name of the individual seeking a pass, the media outlet represented, and an email address and phone number where he or she can be reached. While NCIA will make every effort to honor legitimate requests, capacity is limited, so passes are not guaranteed.

Conference Highlights:

  • Educational facility tours and workshops
  • Investor Demo Day Event, featuring a select group of cannabis startups
  • Second Annual Cannabis Carnival benefit concert, featuring an eclectic lineup of world-class musicians
  • Multiple networking opportunities.

Hot Topics:

  • Analyzing the Current Market Data
  • Packaging and Labeling & Preparing for Future Regulations
  • Litigation Issues
  • Analysis of Different Lighting Technology
  • Testing for Pesticides and Fungi
  • Boutique Cannabis – The Case for Small Business
  • Trademark Enforcement
  • Private Equity & Investment
  • The Importance of Standard Operating Procedures
  • National Outlook on Evolving State-Wide Cannabis Regulations
  • Analyzing & Driving Customer Loyalty
  • The Greener Way – Steps towards a Sustainable Industry
  • Patient Relief


PRESS RELEASE: House Renews Protection for Medical Marijuana Businesses in DOJ Budget

For the second year in a row, and with a larger margin than 2014, the House of Representatives has approved a measure denying the use of federal funds to undermine state-authorized medical cannabis laws

Amendment to extend same protections to state-authorized adult-use businesses narrowly misses majority

WASHINGTON, DC – For the second year in a row, and with 23 more votes in support than last year, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to protect state-legal medical marijuana businesses, caregivers, and patients from federal interference and prosecution. With 242 Members of Congress, including more than 65 Republicans, voting in support of an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), the House once again forbade the use of federal funds to raid, harass, or otherwise interfere with medical cannabis patients or providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The 242-186 vote showed significant gains in support over last year’s historically successful vote on the same amendment, which totaled 219-189.

“Last year, Congress made history with the first-ever federal protections for medical marijuana caregivers and patients, and NCIA is happy to see that progress continue,” said National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith. “This is an issue with overwhelming bipartisan support throughout the nation, and it’s good to see that the House recognizes that it should respect the will of the American people in this way.”

An additional amendment, proposed by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would have extended the same protections to non-medical retail marijuana businesses and consumers in states where adult-use sales have been legalized. The measure narrowly failed, 206-222, with more than 40 Republicans in support.

“We’re disappointed that some Members of Congress don’t think the principles of respect for state policies and voter mandates should be consistently applied, but we’re grateful to Rep. McClintock, Polis, and their co-sponsors for standing up for fairness,” said Smith. “We’ve very proud of the work that NCIA and our allies have done to educate policymakers about the critical need for federal marijuana policy reform, and we’ll build on this toward even greater success in the future.”

RELEASE: Rep. Blumenauer and Sen. Wyden Stand Up for Tax Fairness in the Cannabis Industry

“Rep. Blumenauer and Sen. Wyden are standing up for fairness and support for small business – something everyone should applaud. We certainly do.”

Legislation’s launch comes just ahead of industry’s annual Lobby Days in Washington, D.C.

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2015 in both the House and the Senate. The bills, which have bipartisan co-sponsors and have been endorsed by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Americans for Tax Reform, and other advocacy groups, would end the punishing and unfair taxation levels legal cannabis businesses face because of Section 280E of the federal tax code.

“The small businesses that make up the legal cannabis industry are working overtime to be responsible, contributing members of their communities,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA. “So it’s particularly outrageous that when they try to do the right thing by paying their federal taxes, they end up penalized with double and triple tax rates.”

The 280E provision was added to the tax code in the 1980s after a convicted cocaine trafficker asserted his right to deduct business expenses from his federal tax filings. The provision was never intended to penalize cannabis businesses operating legally and in compliance state law. However, because it applies to the sale of Schedule I and Schedule II substances under the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis cultivators and dispensaries are prohibited from deducting the common expenses every other legitimate business can deduct, including rent, payroll, and state excise taxes. The result is effective tax rates that can range from 50 to 85%, absolutely crippling for a small business.

NCIA released a white paper today providing real-world examples of how 280E harms small businesses across the country.

“Instead of being able to create more jobs, increase salaries, or add benefits for their employees, these businesses are being forced to send more than two-thirds of their profits straight to the federal government,” said Smith.

The Small Business Tax Equity Act – S. 987 and H.R. 1855 – would create an exception to Section 280E which would allow legal cannabis businesses in compliance with state law to take normal business expense deductions like any other legal business. S. 987 has been co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). H.R. 1855 has been co-sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK).

“Rep. Blumenauer, Sen. Wyden, and their co-sponsors are standing up for fairness and support for small business – something everyone should applaud,” said Smith. “We certainly do.”

On April 28-30, dozens of cannabis industry professionals will travel to Washington, D.C., for NCIA’s annual Member Lobby Days. During an all-day symposium on April 28, cannabis policy experts will discuss the state of federal marijuana policy and train attendees on effective lobbying. The symposium will also feature a fireside chat with Rep. Blumenauer and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, who will both discuss their support for 280E reform.

On April 29 and 30, in meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, cannabis business owners will share how federal policies like 280E and a lack of access to banking hurt their ability to build a responsible, legitimate industry and contribute to their local economies.


PRESS RELEASE: Cannabis Industry Applauds Historic Marijuana Proposal in Senate

Bipartisan legislation opens up medical access and research, respects state legalization of medical marijuana, and allows banking for state-compliant marijuana-related businesses

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) applauds the history-making introduction of a bipartisan Senate bill to legalize medical marijuana. The new legislation proposed by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) respects the will of states that have legalized medical marijuana, provides greater access for critically ill patients, removes impediments to research into medical marijuana, and opens up banking access for legal marijuana-related businesses.

“This is a major step forward for cannabis policy reform and the cannabis industry,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “This bill would stop treating patients and their providers as criminals and respect the states and researchers who have recognized the immense potential of cannabis as medicine. In addition, cannabis-related businesses of all kinds would no longer face the dangerous and absurd situation of being denied basic banking services.”

NCIA’s support of the legislation was not without reservation, however. The proposed legislation would place marijuana in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and would stop short of providing protections for individuals acting under state laws regulating marijuana for all adults.

“Marijuana does not belong in Schedule II,” Smith noted. “To dictate that placement without conducting a proper analysis to determine the best schedule is not appropriate given the body of research that has determined cannabis is a safer substance than many over-the-counter medicines. We do not believe that cannabis is as harmful as other Schedule II substances like oxycontin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, and we are disappointed that this legislation suggests they are.

“That said, the Paul-Booker-Gillibrand legislation makes great strides toward compassionate access for patients in need and represents a saner approach to cannabis overall.”


PRESS RELEASE: Cannabis Industry Applauds New Polis-Blumenauer Proposal for Common-Sense Marijuana Policy

“It’s time for federal laws that respect the states who have decided a legal, regulated approach is smarter and safer than the failure of marijuana prohibition.”

Washington, DC – U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jared Polis (D-CO) today launched a legislative effort to fundamentally reform the way the federal government treats legal marijuana businesses and the patients and customers who rely on them. Taken together, the two pieces of legislation introduced today would allow states that have chosen a legal, regulated approach to marijuana to move forward without federal interference and allow banking access and fair taxation to state-compliant cannabis businesses.

“More than half of Americans now live in states where access to medical or adult-use marijuana is legal at the state level. It’s time for federal laws that respect the states who have decided a legal, regulated approach is smarter and safer than the failure of marijuana prohibition,” said National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith.

“The leadership of Rep. Blumenauer and Rep. Polis on these issues puts them in line with the majority of Americans who think that states should have the freedom to tax and regulate marijuana and that state-legal cannabis businesses shouldn’t be persecuted under federal law.”

Rep. Polis’s proposed legislation, the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to set and enforce their own marijuana policies without federal interference. This would not only give each state the freedom to choose its approach, but also remove the many unintended consequences of the current conflict between state and federal marijuana laws. The most critical of these are the lack of banking access for cannabis businesses and the outdated 280E tax code provision which forces legal marijuana businesses to pay effective federal tax rates of 50% to 85%, a crippling burden for businesses doing their best to play by the rules.

“Over the past year, Colorado has demonstrated that regulating marijuana like alcohol takes money away from criminals and cartels, grows our economy, and keeps marijuana out of the hands of children,” said Rep. Polis in a press release issued earlier today. “While President Obama and the Justice Department have allowed the will of voters in states like Colorado and 22 other jurisdictions to move forward, small business owners, medical marijuana patients, and others who follow state laws still live with the fear that a new administration — or this one — could reverse course and turn them into criminals. It is time for us to replace the failed prohibition with a regulatory system that works and let states and municipalities decide for themselves if they want, or don’t want, to have legal marijuana within their borders.”

Rep. Blumenauer’s legislation, which is contingent on federal marijuana decriminalization, would begin to lay out a federal tax structure that stops treating legal cannabis businesses as criminals.

“It’s time for the federal government to chart a new path forward for marijuana.” said Mr. Blumenauer in the same press release. “Together these bills create a federal framework to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, much like we treat alcohol and tobacco. The federal prohibition of marijuana has been a failure, wasting tax dollars and ruining countless lives. As more states move to legalize marijuana as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done, it’s imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.”


National Cannabis Industry Association’s Top 6 Moments in the Historic First Year of Cannabis Legalization

“There’s no superlative that could adequately describe the impact that 2014 has had on the cannabis industry.”

DENVER, CO – In honor of the one-year anniversary of Colorado’s history-making opening of legal adult-use sales of marijuana, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is looking back at the most monumental year in the history of the cannabis industry.

“There’s no superlative that could adequately describe the impact that 2014 has had on the cannabis industry,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “The success of adult-use legalization in Colorado and Washington, the overwhelming public opinion in favor of medical marijuana, and the steady march of policy change at both the state and federal levels have created an entirely new world.

“NCIA is proud to work on behalf of the businesses, consumers, patients, and advocates all striving to build a cannabis industry that is successful, responsible, engaged in our communities, and treated fairly by policy-makers.”

Nearly every week brought new ground-breaking developments, but here are NCIA’s top six moments in a year that has changed the industry forever.

1. Legal adult-use sales begin in Colorado.
2014 kicked off with a bang with the historic opening of legal sales in Colorado. Under a tremendous media spotlight, the rollout was a remarkably smooth success. More than $573M in legal marijuana sales and $60M in state tax and fee revenue later*, the Colorado industry is proving that a legal, regulated market not only works, but works well. Crime is down. Tourism is up. Funds are rolling into Colorado schools and long overdue medical marijuana research. And perhaps just as importantly, when concerns do arise, a regulated market provides an opportunity to address those concerns.
*Revenue figures cover January through October, as November and December sales data are not yet available.

2. Federal officials release banking guidelines for serving the legal cannabis industry.
In February, officials with the Departments of Justice and Treasury released memos intended to provide guidance for financial institutions interested in providing banking for legal cannabis industry businesses. While the ultimate outcome of the memos was muted, and most cannabis businesses are still denied basic banking services, the memos nonetheless served as potent message that federal authorities recognized the banking crisis in the industry and were seeking solutions.

3. Congress passes the first-ever pro-marijuana provisions at the federal level.
In May, the Republican-majority House of Representatives easily passed two appropriations amendments designed to protect state-sanctioned marijuana businesses. One of those – the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prohibiting the use of Department of Justice funds to interfere with legal medical marijuana programs – became law when it was included in the “cromnibus” budget that was approved by both the House and the Senate in December. Another, which would have forbidden the use of Department of Treasury funds to prosecute banks serving state-sanctioned cannabis businesses, passed by 39 votes in the House but was dropped during budget negotiations. NCIA lobbying efforts, together with the work of allied organizations, helped make these historic votes possible.

4. NCIA holds its first national Cannabis Business Summit, drawing 1,200 attendees to Denver.
In June, NCIA hosted the inaugural national Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. More than 1,200 cannabis industry professionals spent two days discussing innovation, responsibility, and the challenges and opportunities in building an industry to be proud of. The Cannabis Business Summit returns to Denver in 2015, with attendance expected to double.

5. Legal adult-use sales begin in Washington state and quickly outpace revenue projections.
July saw the opening of legal adult-use sales in Washington state, and legal cannabis businesses are already bringing in more tax revenue than the state projected. Significant differences between the policy designs in Colorado and Washington made the two states’ rollouts proceed at different paces, but ultimately Washington’s experience is again confirming that legal adult-use markets are safe, viable, and effective ways to approach marijuana policy.

6. Midterm voters legalize adult-use marijuana in Alaska, Oregon, and D.C.
Despite a midterm election with extremely low turnout and a huge wave of conservative victories, voters approved adult-use legalization in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., and notched very strong support for medical marijuana in Florida, falling just short of the 60% threshold needed for passage. Given the political dynamics of the 2014 election, it’s clear that support for marijuana policy reform crosses political and ideological lines and that voters of all stripes are increasingly calling for a smarter, safer alternative to marijuana prohibition. It’s a trend that will likely grow even stronger in the 2016 electorate.

It was a year of historic firsts and ground-breaking developments, but NCIA’s work on behalf of the industry is only beginning. Most cannabis businesses are still being denied the most basic banking services and facing effective federal tax rates that can soar as high as 85%. NCIA is committed to making 2015 another year of dramatic progress for the people and businesses of the legal cannabis industry.


NCIA Lauds Historic Protection for Medical Marijuana in ‘CRomnibus’ Law

First time in history both House and Senate have approved protection for medical marijuana patients and providers

Law also includes ‘unacceptable’ measure attempting to undermine D.C.’s overwhelming vote for legalization

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) today applauded the passage of the first-ever federal protections for state-sanctioned medical marijuana patients and caregivers.

Included in the omnibus spending bill approved by both the House and the Senate is a measure forbidding the Department of Justice to use any federal funds to interfere with the legal use and sale of medical cannabis in states where that activity is sanctioned under state law.

“Elected officials in Washington have been drastically out of touch with public opinion when it comes to marijuana policy,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “This is the historic first step toward getting it right for patients and the compassionate businesses and organizations those patients rely on for safe access to medical cannabis.”

A recent poll commissioned by Third Way shows that more than three-quarters of American voters believe medical marijuana should be legal.

The spending bill also includes a measure designed to undermine Washington, D.C.’s marijuana legalization initiative, which passed on Election Day with more than 2-1 support from voters.

“It is unacceptable that Congress would attempt to so blithely trample on the overwhelming will of D.C.’s voters,” said Smith. “D.C.’s citizens rejected the failed policies of marijuana prohibition with a clear voice, and there’s simply no justification worthy of respect for Congress to try to undermine that.”


NCIA Calls on Congress to Stop Trampling on D.C.’s Choice of a Safe, Regulated Marijuana System

Possible budget deal to block implementation of regulated system in D.C. violates overwhelming will of voters

“This is a move that would manage to be both cynical and stupid, not to mention deeply out of touch.”

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) today responded to reports that an upcoming Congressional budget deal may include a provision blocking the creation of regulations for Washington, D.C.’s marijuana legalization initiative, which passed on Election Day with more than 2-1 support from voters.

“D.C. voters overwhelmingly chose to take a smarter and safer approach to marijuana policy by allowing for the creation of a responsible, regulated system for production and sales,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith.

“Apparently, Congress is not interested in being smart, or safe, or democratic.

“Dictatorially blocking D.C.’s ability to create a regulatory system for already-decriminalized marijuana isn’t just a violation of the voters’ clearly stated will. It would rob the city of the chance to mandate responsible selling practices, monitor for safe products, and benefit from a powerful economic engine.

“This is a move that would manage to be both cynical and stupid, not to mention deeply out of touch with the majority of American voters, who want the federal government to butt out of local marijuana policy choices.”


PRESS RELEASE: National Cannabis Industry Association Congratulates Oregon, Alaska, and D.C. on Smart, Regulated Approach to Marijuana

Success of legalization initiatives means Oregon and Alaska will benefit from transparent, accountable, and tax-contributing cannabis businesses

Victory in D.C. adds to overall movement for marijuana policy reform

DENVER, CO – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) tonight congratulated the voters of Oregon and Alaska for choosing to take a smarter approach to marijuana by creating legal, taxed, and regulated access to cannabis for adults. NCIA also celebrated the victory of Washington, D.C.’s decisive support of legalization for adult use.

“Voters in Oregon and Alaska have wisely rejected the failed policies of prohibition, and now they’ll reap the benefits of a legal, taxed, and regulated market for marijuana,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “That means safe products, responsible and transparent business practices, increased tax revenues and job creation, and smarter priorities for law enforcement.

“And in our nation’s capital, voters demanded legalization by a huge margin and laid the foundation for the city council to develop a taxed and regulated system.

“Even in Florida, where efforts fell just short of the 60% support needed, we saw a strong majority vote to allow patients to have access to medical marijuana.

“These successes are another indication that Americans increasingly believe there is a better way to approach cannabis. Congratulations to Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C., for helping lead the nation toward that better way.”


PRESS RELEASE: Colorado U.S. Senate Candidates Agree – Federal Government Should “Butt Out” of State’s Marijuana Policies

Both Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Cory Gardner call for Colorado’s legal cannabis industry to be able to work without federal interference

Udall: “We will get the job done.”

DENVER, CO – In a debate last night between the two major party candidates in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Colorado, there was really only one issue Sen. Mark Udall (D) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R) agreed on: the federal government should get out of the way of the state’s legal cannabis industry.

When debate moderator Brandon Rittiman of 9NEWS asked the candidates if they believed Colorado’s legal cannabis businesses should be granted an exemption from federal laws regarding marijuana, both candidates responded positively.

“We need to work together as a [Congressional] delegation to make sure the federal government butts out,” Udall stated in the debate.

“Congress should [grant an exemption],” Udall continued. “I’m working on that. We should do it for a number of reasons. Particularly, the cannabis industry needs access to the banking system. Right now, since marijuana is a Schedule I drug, that access is not available. It’s a public safety hazard, and we will get the job done.”

Gardner agreed, saying, “I don’t know that you could specifically do that for Colorado; there are other states that are doing it. But Congress overall has to take a look at the regulatory system to make sure that Colorado is allowed to follow what it passed, and do so in a way that addresses banking issues and other regulatory issues as they arise throughout the entire system.”

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act (H.R. 1523) was introduced in the House by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in 2013. That bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that its provisions related to marijuana would not apply to any person acting in compliance with state laws regarding cannabis. This change would help address the many unsustainable conflicts between federal marijuana policy and state mandates that have created legal, regulated marijuana systems. One of the most prominent of these conflicts has led to many legal cannabis businesses being denied access to basic banking services due to the federal regulation of the banking industry.

“Even the bitterest political opponents agree that the federal government is wrong to stand in the way of states taking a smarter approach to marijuana policy,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “The responsible and hard-working small business people who make up this industry deserve to be treated fairly, and it speaks volumes that both Senate candidates in Colorado publicly declared their support for that tonight.”

[A video clip of last night’s exchange on cannabis policy can be found here – go to Part 3: Short Answer Round, and start at 1:50.]


Thursday, Aug. 7: First-Ever National Cannabis Industry Association Event in New York Will Feature Senator Savino, Assemblyman Katz, & Industry Leaders

Keynote discussions on New York’s Compassionate Care Act and the state of the legal marijuana industry in New York and federally

NEW YORK, NY – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will host its first-ever event in New York on Thursday, August 7, from noon to 4pm at the Eventi Hotel in Manhattan.

Featuring keynotes by State Senator Diane J. Savino (D-Staten Island) and State Assemblyman Steve Katz (R-Yorktown), the event will include lunch and in-depth discussions on the recent passage of the Compassionate Care Act and the work NCIA is doing federally to advance a legitimate and responsible cannabis industry.

NCIA has nearly 700 member-businesses nationwide and hosts events throughout the country to build a legal cannabis community founded on best practices, responsibility, and sustainability. At its first-ever event in New York, NCIA invites cannabis professionals to learn the latest surrounding medical marijuana policy at the state and federal levels. The event is sponsored by Ideal 420 Soil, a provider of targeted soil and materials for cannabis cultivation. Tickets are $300.

In addition to Senator Savino and Assemblyman Katz, attendees will hear from:

  • Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA,
  • Richard Yost, co-founder of Ideal 420 Soil, and
  • Jane West, executive director of Women Grow, a national organization for women in the cannabis industry

Members of the media are invited to attend. Please RSVP to events@thecannabisindustry.org.

New York Educational Luncheon and Fundraiser
Hosted by NCIA and Sponsored by Ideal 420 Soil

Thursday, August 7
Noon to 4pm
Humphrey at Eventi Hotel
839 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY

Tickets – $300 (includes lunch & cocktail reception)
Registration, Detailed Agenda, and More Information



NCIA Launches First ServSafe© Food Safety Training for Marijuana ‘Edibles’ Makers and Responsible Selling Program for ‘Budtenders – Denver, August 6 & 19

Edibles makers to learn proper hygiene, prevention of food contamination, emergency procedures, and more

“Budtenders” to learn responsible selling practices based on lessons of alcohol industry

DENVER, CO – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) announced today that it will launch the first ServSafe© Food Safety Basics course specifically for cannabis industry professionals. Participants in the course, based on a curriculum developed originally by the National Restaurant Association, will learn about the significance of foodborne illness, proper personal hygiene, time and temperature control, how to prevent cross-contamination, cleaning, sanitizing and emergency procedures, and more.

“The interest in edibles and other infused products keeps growing,” said NCIA deputy director Taylor West.  “We know our industry is under a microscope, and we want to make sure cannabis product-makers continue developing the highest quality and safest products possible.”

NCIA also announced a new Sell-SMaRT™Responsible Cannabis Vendorcourse that will teach marijuana dispensary employees, or “budtenders,” responsible selling practices, such as how to check ID, educate customers about responsible consumption, and handle tricky situations.

These courses are developed and facilitated by Maureen McNamara, founder of Cannabis Trainers™, an NCIA member business. McNamara has been teaching the ServSafe© course to traditional food industry professionals for the last 18 years, but this will be her first course geared solely for makers of marijuana edibles. McNamara served as a consultant and facilitator for courses and course design with the National Restaurant Association and has partnered with the Colorado Restaurant Association to deliver their trainings since 1999. She worked with the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Liquor Enforcement Division to develop the Responsible Vendor Act that was passed in 2005 and will be working with the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division to design the Responsible Cannabis Vendor Program this year.

Colorado became the first state to implement the legal sale of marijuana for non-medical purposes in January of this year. Sales have been thriving since then, and marijuana-infused products, often referred to as “edibles,” represent two-thirds of the burgeoning market.

For many consumers, marijuana-infused products are an attractive alternative to smoking. They are particularly vital to those who use marijuana for medical reasons, because their effects last longer and can be manufactured with doses that meet patients’ needs in a reliable way. While the expansion of legal medical and adult-use cannabis markets has been predominantly successful and smooth, isolated cases of production issues and irresponsible consumption show the potential benefit of more widespread training programs for businesses in the legal industry.

“This is a great example of how the industry is self-regulating to make marijuana-infused products as safe as possible for consumers,” said Art Way, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)’s Colorado office. “We applaud NCIA for taking this important step forward.”

NCIA’s pilot partnership with Cannabis Trainers™ will include both ServSafe® and Sell-SMaRT™training courses produced by Cannabis Trainers™. The first trainings will take place in Denver, Colorado on August 6 (ServSafe®) and August 19 (Sell-SMaRT™), with additional trainings to be scheduled in the coming months.  Members of the press who are interested in attending either of these courses must RSVP to taylor@thecannabisindustry.org.

Upon successful implementation of the pilot training program, NCIA anticipates expanding its training programs to include additional states and training partners in the future. More information on the first training sessions and how cannabis professionals can attend can be found at http://thecannabisindustry.org/servsafe-sell-smart-ncia-partners-cannabis-trainers.


House of Representatives Votes to Open Banking for Cannabis Businesses

Two votes show bipartisan support for cannabis businesses to access banking services

NCIA Executive Director: “This is a huge step forward for the legal cannabis industry.”

WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives cast two votes today in support of opening up banking services to state-legal marijuana businesses. By a vote of 231-192, the House passed an amendment to the Financial Services appropriations bill, forbidding the use of federal funds to penalize financial institutions that serve marijuana businesses operating legally under state law. The amendment was sponsored by Representatives Denny Heck (D-WA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), and Barbara Lee (D-CA).

By a vote of 236-186, the House also rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), that would have blocked the implementation of guidance issued by the Department of the Treasury in February, intended to lay out a road map for banks seeking to serve the cannabis industry.

“This is a huge step forward for the legal cannabis industry,” said National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith. “Access to basic banking services is one of the most critical challenges facing legal cannabis businesses and the state agencies tasked with regulating them.”

“Now that a bipartisan coalition in the House has voted to fix the problem, it’s time for the Senate to take swift action to ensure that this sensible policy becomes the law of the land.”

RELEASE: Colorado’s Legal Marijuana Stores Post $45M in Jan. Sales; $3.5M in State Tax and Fee Payments

Colorado Department of Revenue announces official cannabis sales and tax revenues for January, including $14M in legal adult-use sales

Members of Congress and industry leaders to hold Capitol Hill briefing in Washington, D.C., on Thurs., Mar. 13

DENVER – Colorado’s legal cannabis businesses brought in $45 million in sales and $3.5 million in tax and fee revenue for the state during the historic first month of legal retail adult-use sales, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The figures, announced today by state officials, show that Colorado’s dispensaries brought in approximately $14 million in adult-use cannabis sales, and approximately $31 million in medical cannabis sales. Adult-use cannabis taxes and fees for January added $2.1 million to Colorado’s state coffers. Medical cannabis taxes and fees contributed another $1.4 million.

“Colorado’s cannabis business community is proud to support important state programs like school construction through this new tax revenue,” said National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) executive director Aaron Smith. “The month of January showed the world that taking marijuana off the streets and putting it behind a taxed, regulated counter can be done professionally, productively, and prosperously. Now it’s time for Congress to reconcile outdated federal laws with those of states like Colorado that have decided to opt out of the failed experiment of marijuana prohibition.”

This week, dozens of cannabis industry leaders will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional members and staff to discuss critical banking and taxation issues facing the industry. On Thursday, March 13 at 10:30am, three members of Congress will join industry leaders and pollster Celinda Lake in the Cannon House Office Building to hold a briefing on the growing support for the legal cannabis industry. Members of the media are welcome to attend.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
Aaron Smith, Executive Director, National Cannabis Industry Association
Celinda Lake, President, Lake Research Partners
NCIA Business Leaders representing California, Colorado, Washington, and other states with active legal cannabis markets

WHAT: “Marijuana: Growing Support and Growing Economies” Capitol Hill Briefing

WHEN: 10:30am, Thursday, March 13, 2014

WHERE: Cannon House Office Building, Room 340

MEDIA RSVP: Taylor West, (202) 495-9680 or taylor@thecannabisindustry.org


RELEASE: First-Ever Adult-Use Marijuana Sales Taxes to Be Filed in Colorado Today

History made as legal, adult-use cannabis businesses pay first month’s sales taxes into state coffers

Governor’s budget projects $99M in adult-use sales taxes to be collected in 2014

DENVER – History will be made again today in Colorado as the state collects the first-ever tax revenues from the legal sale of adult-use marijuana. Today is the deadline for Colorado’s adult-use cannabis businesses to file sales taxes for January 2014, the first month of legal, retail marijuana sales in the nation.

Data on the sales tax revenue collected will not be available from the Colorado Department of Revenue until sometime in March. But yesterday, Governor John Hickenlooper announced an initial budget plan for adult-use marijuana sales tax revenues that assumes the state will collect approximately $99 million in 2014. Those sales tax revenues come on top of the revenues from a 15% excise tax on wholesale cannabis, which is earmarked specifically for school construction projects.

“This is a watershed day,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “Colorado voters led the world in supporting a legal, taxed, and regulated approach to cannabis, and now they’ll reap the benefits of a prosperous new industry and tax base.

“Today, our members in Colorado are proudly contributing to their communities like any other responsible business, and it’s a victory for the entire state. Elected leaders in other states and in Washington, D.C., ought to be taking note and moving federal policies into harmony with state law.”


RELEASE: National Cannabis Industry Association Hails Opening of Banking Services for the Cannabis Industry

Justice and Treasury Departments issue guidance clearing the way for banks to serve state-authorized cannabis businesses

Legal cannabis industry projected to produce $2.57B in revenue in 2014, a ripe new market for financial services

DENVER – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) today lauded the opening of banking services for the multi-billion-dollar legal cannabis industry. Guidance issued today by the Departments of Justice and Treasury makes it clear that banks are allowed to serve cannabis businesses operating legally under state law.

In fact, the guidance issued by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) included this sentence, removing any doubt about whether the federal government was signaling that this activity can be conducted: “This FinCEN guidance clarifies how financial institutions can provide services to marijuana- related businesses consistent with their BSA obligations.”

“This is a huge victory for our members, our communities, and the banks that take this opportunity to serve a thriving new market,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith.

“The legal, regulated cannabis industry is legitimate, professional, and prospering, and our businesses deserve to be treated like those in any other American industry. We’re looking forward to developing beneficial and long-lasting relationships with financial institutions that are ready and eager to work with us.

“We’re grateful to officials at the Treasury and Justice Departments who have been working to resolve this banking crisis. No legitimate business should be forced to manage its payroll, taxes, utility bills, and licensing fees entirely in cash. Today’s guidance allowing for banking access means better security for our members, easier accounting and transparency, and more resources to invest in our local economies.”

Prior to today’s federal guidance, most financial institutions had been unwilling to provide even the most basic banking services, such as checking and savings accounts, to medical or adult-use marijuana businesses. This forced state-authorized businesses to handle their financial transactions entirely in cash.

NCIA and its members will continue to call on Congress to provide even further clarity for financial institutions serving the industry, but today’s guidance clears the way for banks to accept state-legal cannabis businesses as clients. Those banks who do will be adding a flourishing industry to their portfolios — the latest projections from industry analysis firm ArcView Market Research indicate that the legal cannabis industry will add $2.57 billion to the American economy in 2014.


National Cannabis Industry Association Applauds Attorney General for Committing to a Banking Fix ‘Very Soon’

Holder announced today that the Obama administration will issue guidance allowing banks to serve state-legal cannabis businesses

Industry projected to produce $2.57B in revenue in 2014, forced to operate almost entirely in cash

DENVER – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) today applauded remarks from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, announcing imminent guidance from the Obama Administration to allow financial institutions to serve state-legal marijuana businesses.

“For the legal, regulated cannabis industry, this is very welcome news,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “We have been anxiously awaiting clarity on the banking issue from the Justice and Treasury Departments for many months. To hear that guidance will be issued ‘very soon’ is encouraging. It’s critical that we fix this issue before February 20, when our Colorado members must pay their first round of state taxes, or the Colorado Department of Revenue may be forced to accept more than $1 million in cash payments.

“We’re grateful to Attorney General Holder and other federal officials who have been working to resolve this crisis. The safety of our members is threatened by the current lack of banking access and this resolution cannot come soon enough.”

In the absence of guidance from federal enforcers, most financial institutions have been unwilling to provide even the most basic banking services, such as checking and savings accounts, to medical or adult-use marijuana businesses. This forces state-authorized cannabis businesses to handle their financial transactions, including sales, payroll, taxes, and licensing fees, entirely in cash. The latest projections from industry analysis firm ArcView Market Research indicate that the legal cannabis industry will add $2.57 billion to the American economy in 2014.


Americans for Tax Reform Releases White Paper Detailing Needed Changes to Marijuana Business Taxes

Grover Norquist and Representative Earl Blumenauer identify unjust application of tax code for legal marijuana businesses at press conference with the National Cannabis Industry Association

Washington, DC – Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) president Grover Norquist, and National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith held a press conference today to mark the release of a new white paper from ATR entitled Legal Cannabis Dispensary Taxation: A Textbook Case of Punishing Law-Abiding Businesses Through the Tax Code. The paper calls for reform of Internal Revenue Code Section 280E, which essentially forces medical marijuana providers to pay taxes based on gross receipts rather than income, unlike all other small businesses.

Additionally, the paper details Americans for Tax Reform’s endorsement of H.R. 2240, the Small Business Tax Equity Act, introduced earlier this year by Rep. Blumenauer and strongly supported by the National Cannabis Industry Association. Mr. Norquist also sent a letter explaining his support for H.R. 2240 to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp.

Statement from Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association:

Congress needs to take swift action to amend 280E, a leftover relic in the Tax Code that was never intended to apply to small businesses complying with state laws. Without the technical amendment needed to allow these businesses to be treated equally under tax law, states and municipalities that are currently embracing the emerging regulated cannabis industry will never be able to realize its full economic potential. We are pleased to be able to stand with Grover Norquist and Representative Blumenauer on this non-partisan and commonsense issue.

Statement from Representative Blumenauer: 

Small, legal marijuana businesses are being victimized by the tax code. They cannot deduct their business expenses like all other businesses. Then cannot claim advantages like the work opportunity tax credit if they hire a veteran. They cannot depreciate their American-made irrigation equipment. This is why I introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act. Only Congress can fix this problem by updating the federal tax law that forces these businesses to close their doors, or drives them underground, encouraging evasion. I welcome Americans for Tax Reform in endorsing this legislation, a commonsense fix with appeal across the political spectrum.


The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the only national trade association working to advance the interests of cannabis-related businesses in the US. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and works for a favorable social, economic and legal environment for that industry in the United States.



Grover Norquist, Rep. Earl Blumenauer to Hold Press Conference to Decry Unfair Marijuana Business Tax

Event coincides with Americans for Tax Reform release of white paper on the need to reform Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code 

For Press Conference on Thursday, September 12, 2013

Washington, DC – On Thursday, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) president Grover Norquist will hold a press conference to discuss ATR’s release of a white paper entitled Legal Cannabis Dispensary Taxation: A Textbook Case of Punishing Law-Abiding Businesses Through the Tax Code. The paper discusses Section 280E of the tax code, which is misapplied to legal cannabis businesses and creates an effective tax rate two to four times that of other small businesses. Mr. Norquist will also announce Americans for Tax Reform’s endorsement of H.R. 2240, the Small Business Tax Equity Act, which was introduced by Rep. Blumenauer and is strongly supported by the National Cannabis Industry Association.

From the report:

Abstract: Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) creates a gross receipts tax situation for legal cannabis dispensary small businesses. This is due to an accident of history and a perversion of Congressional intent. ATR supports fixing this mistake. H.R. 2240, the “Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2013” does so. ATR urges all Congressmen to support this common-sense legislation.

What’s the issue? Under tax law, legal cannabis dispensaries are unable to claim the ordinary and necessary business expense deductions that any other legal business can claim.

What tax penalties do legal cannabis dispensaries face in these states? Like any other business, cannabis dispensaries must pay taxes on all business revenues. Unlike other businesses, however, this industry cannot deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses to arrive at a true taxable business profit. In essence, they pay a gross receipts tax instead of an income tax.

What: Press conference to present Americans for Tax Reform’s white paper, Legal Cannabis Dispensary Taxation: A Textbook Case of Punishing Law-Abiding Businesses Through the Tax Code

Where: House Triangle, US Capitol, 1 1st Street SE, Washington, DC 20510 (The House Triangle is located on the south side of the Capitol, directly inside the New Jersey Ave. entrance).  In case of inclement weather, the press conference will take place at 210 Cannon House Office building.

When: Thursday, September 12, 11 a.m.

Who: Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform

Aaron Smith, Executive Director, National Cannabis Industry Association


The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the only national trade association working to advance the interests of cannabis-related businesses in the US. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and works for a favorable social, economic and legal environment for that industry in the United States.

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