NCIA Provides Testimony for Today’s Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Medical Marijuana

NCIA executive director Aaron Smith: “It’s long past time for our government to bring marijuana policy into alignment with the science.”

 

Washington, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing today at 2:30pm ET on the potential medical benefits of marijuana. National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith was invited to submit written testimony to entered into the record of the hearing.

Below are some excerpts from Smith’s testimony, followed by the full text.

Testimony excerpts:

“The medical community and the American public have been aware of the medicinal benefits of cannabis for decades. Sadly, however, the federal government has yet to engage in any meaningful research on medical cannabis. The DEA has put up bureaucratic roadblocks to legitimate science and has severely limited, if not completely obstructed, legitimate researchers who would study cannabis’ benefits. The result? Americans are denied the opportunity to see the results of FDA-approved, double-blind studies demonstrating the benefits of medical marijuana, while elected officials erroneously point to the lack of these studies as evidence of a lack of therapeutic benefits.”

“It’s long past time for our government to bring marijuana policy into alignment with the science and allow states to regulate cannabis properly without federal interference. This would replace the criminal market for marijuana, including medical marijuana, with a regulated, tax-paying business sector that is committed to the compassionate care, health, and wellness of its patients, rather than to generating profit at any cost.”

Full testimony as submitted:

Testimony Submitted for the Record
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
Hearing on:
“Researching the Potential Medical Benefits and Risks of Marijuana”

Aaron Smith, Executive Director
National Cannabis Industry Association

July 13, 2016

Thank you Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Whitehouse for convening this very important hearing and for the opportunity to submit testimony for the record. I am Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director for the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).

NCIA is the only national trade association advancing the interests of the legitimate and responsible cannabis industry. Our industry supports tens of thousands of jobs, tens of millions in tax revenue, and billions in economic activity. Our membership includes more than 1,000 businesses across 40 states, including hundreds of state-regulated cannabis dispensaries that provide medicine for thousands of patients.

In my many years working in this industry, I have met countless people, heard numerous stories, and witnessed first-hand people who have benefited significantly from medical cannabis, especially when other medicines had failed to remedy their underlying maladies. The evidence is overwhelming — the results of medicinal cannabis have been nothing short of amazing.

Despite years of experience and positive results, questions about medical cannabis remain.

Is Cannabis Addictive?

According to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,

Compared to most other drugs … dependence among marijuana users is relatively rare … [A]lthough few marijuana users develop dependence, some do. But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.”

In other words, cannabis is safer than alcohol and most prescription drugs on the market. In fact, on July 6th of this year, National Public Radio broadcast a story on how Medicare prescriptions for many drugs actually drop after medical marijuana is legalized in a state.

Yesterday the Senate debated S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. It is our view that no debate on opioid addiction should take place without discussing how using cannabis to treat chronic pain can help alleviate the need for addictive painkillers. In fact, if doctors and other medical professionals across this country were able to recommend cannabis to their patients in appropriate circumstances and under medical supervision, we believe we would diminish the over-prescribing, dependency, and abuse of opioids we see today.

Research supports this theory. A study published by JAMA Internal Medicine in August of 2015 concluded that states with legal medical marijuana access saw a 25% drop in annual deaths from opioid pharmaceutical overdoses. A report published in Health Affairs this month found that a typical doctor in a state that had legalized medical marijuana prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers per year.

What Conditions Can Cannabis Treat?

People who are suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or HIV, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C, and multiple sclerosis have found relief by using marijuana. Marijuana is also used to treat cachexia, anorexia, and wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain or nausea; seizure disorders (such as epilepsy); arthritis; migraines; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and Alzheimer’s disease. This is why medical cannabis is supported by, among others:

  • American College of Physicians
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Public Health Association
  • Lymphoma Foundation of America
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Epilepsy Foundation
  • American Academy of HIV Medicine
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society

What Does the Research Say About Medical Marijuana?

As a California native, I remember in 1999 when the California legislature passed S.B. 847, which commissioned the University of California to establish a scientific program to expand the public scientific knowledge on purported therapeutic usages of marijuana. The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at UCSD, produced a report with a conclusion that read,

As a result of this program of systematic research, we now have reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment in selected pain syndromes caused by injury or diseases of the nervous system, and possibly for painful muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. Obviously more research will be necessary to elucidate the mechanisms of action and the full therapeutic potential of cannabinoid compounds. Meanwhile, the knowledge and new findings from the CMCR provide a strong science-based context in which policy makers and the public can discuss the place of these compounds in medical care.”

The medical community and the American public have been aware of the medicinal benefits of cannabis for decades. Sadly, however, the federal government has yet to engage in any meaningful research on medical cannabis. The DEA has put up bureaucratic roadblocks to legitimate science and has severely limited, if not completely obstructed, legitimate researchers who would study cannabis’ benefits. The result? Americans are denied the opportunity to see the results of FDA-approved, double-blind studies demonstrating the benefits of medical marijuana, while elected officials erroneously point to the lack of these studies as evidence of a lack of therapeutic benefits.

Why Is Marijuana Classified as a Schedule I Substance?

By every objective measure, it makes no sense that federal law classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance alongside dangerous drugs like heroin. Moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II would acknowledge that it has medical benefits, but would still classify marijuana on equal footing with much more dangerous drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines. There is no reason for Congress to move marijuana from one inappropriate schedule to another inappropriate schedule.

Ultimately, marijuana should be removed from the list of federally controlled substances, enabling states to enact their own approaches to marijuana laws, including medical marijuana laws, without the existing conflict between state and federal law. This will also allow expansion of research into the medical value of marijuana.

It’s long past time for our government to bring marijuana policy into alignment with the science and allow states to regulate cannabis properly without federal interference. This would replace the criminal market for marijuana, including medical marijuana, with a regulated, tax-paying business sector that is committed to the compassionate care, health, and wellness of its patients, rather than to generating profit at any cost.

Thank you again for the opportunity to submit testimony for the record. We urge you to permit researchers to study marijuana’s medical benefits. The evidence is simply too great to ignore.

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NCIA Calls on Congress to Restore Commonsense, Majority-Favored Marijuana Proposals to Appropriations Bills

Despite bipartisan, majority support in House and Senate, leadership blocks fix to dangerous banking crisis and strips provision allowing V.A. doctors to discuss medical marijuana with patients

 

Washington, DC – Recent actions by congressional leadership have derailed two commonsense, majority-favored marijuana policy reform proposals that had been expected to pass through the appropriations process. Today, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) called on members of Congress to work to restore those provisions as the budget negotiation process continues.

“Bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate have supported the commonsense, compassionate ideas that law-abiding cannabis businesses shouldn’t be forced into dangerous all-cash operations, and that veterans who have put themselves in harm’s way for our country should be able to learn about how medical marijuana could help them deal with the physical and psychological aftermath of their sacrifices,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith.

“It was deeply disappointing to see those policies blocked behind closed doors this week. Given American voters’ overwhelming support of medical marijuana access, and the critical public safety issues caused by cannabis businesses’ lack of bank access, we call on lawmakers to stand up for their constituents and work to get these majority-supported provisions restored in the final budget.”

Last week, a former U.S. Marine working as a security guard at a licensed Colorado dispensary was killed by two armed robbers who likely targeted the dispensary because it is widely known that cannabis businesses without bank accounts are forced to keep large amounts of cash on their premises.

But on Wednesday, the House Rules Committee blocked any debate or vote on the Heck-Perlmutter amendment to the Treasury Appropriations bill which would have prevented funds from being used to sanction banks doing business with state-compliant marijuana businesses. This could have opened up banking access for legitimate marijuana businesses, easing the public safety crisis that has been created by forcing cannabis businesses to operate in all cash.

A similar amendment recently passed in the Senate Appropriations Committee on a bipartisan vote, and two years ago, the House passed it easily on a bipartisan vote with a 39-vote margin.

Early Thursday morning, a conference committee of House and Senate leaders stripped out an amendment to the Veterans Administration funding bill which would have allowed V.A. doctors to discuss medical marijuana with their patients in states where medical marijuana access is legal. Medical marijuana has shown substantial promise as a therapy for chronic pain, PTSD, and other issues with which many veterans struggle. The V.A. amendment had already passed with majority, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate during regular debate.

A CBS News national poll from April shows that 56% of Americans support full legalization of marijuana, with 90% supporting legalization for medical use.

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Cannabis Expert Calling Network (ECN) Unveiled at Cannabis Business Summit and Expo

National Cannabis Industry Association Knowledge-Sharing Platform Features Cannabis Industry Thought Leaders and Experts

Oakland, CA – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and Brainsy, Inc., today unveiled the Cannabis Expert Calling Network (ECN®), a knowledge-sharing platform connecting cannabis industry experts with information-seekers and entrepreneurs online or via paid telephone consultations.

The Cannabis ECN is accessible at https://cannabis.expertcallingnetwork.com and features NCIA members who create personalized profiles to showcase their expertise on a range of cannabis topics. Experts can designate their expertise in a variety of categories including: Industry Introduction, General Consulting, Compliance and Policy, Advanced Business Practices, Cultivation, Dispensaries, Extractions & Infused Products, Marketing & Media, Medical, and Money Matters.

“We’re seeing a huge demand for the exchange of knowledge as so many new people and businesses across the U.S. enter the cannabis industry,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA. “With the Cannabis Expert Calling Network, advice-seekers can connect with established industry experts in a way that’s simple and clearly structured. It’s a win-win for our members and for anyone looking for cannabis industry expertise.”

Experts participating in the launch of the ECN include a who’s-who of cannabis industry veterans and leaders. Many ECN experts will also be speakers or panelists during NCIA’s 3rd Annual Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, June 20-22, in Oakland, Ca. Conference attendees who wish to talk with a speaker or panelist after the conference ends can request a one-on-one phone call with the participating expert through the ECN. Discussions can range from fifteen to sixty minutes in duration.

“As so many new states open up medical or adult-use cannabis markets, those of us already working in the industry have a huge amount of hard-won experience and knowledge to offer. The Cannabis ECN makes it easy for people to find us and for us to get compensated for sharing our time and expertise,” stated Jaime Lewis, CEO and Founder of Mountain Medicine, a participating expert.

At the core of the Cannabis ECN platform are cutting-edge knowledge-sharing tools including Brainsy’s patented ECN transactional calling platform. Experts also have access to features of the Personal Media ECN, including the ECN InCall® badge which enables experts to monetize their social media presence on other platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn.

“The rapidly changing landscape and growth in the cannabis industry make it ripe for innovation and entrepreneurs,” stated Brian Christie, CEO of Brainsy, the ECN Platform provider. “We are pleased to be working with a well-respected and pioneering association such as NCIA to help make knowledge and expertise in the responsible and legitimate cannabis industry more accessible to people across the nation.”

The Cannabis ECN is made possible in part by the generous support of companies such as docGreens, CannaCon, and Dixie Elixirs. 

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THIS WEEK IN CALIFORNIA: 3,000+ Cannabis Professionals Gather at NCIA’s Cannabis Business Summit in Oakland, Including ‘Who’s Who’ of Cannabis Industry Leaders

As California prepares to consider cannabis legalization, the most influential marijuana business event in the industry starts TOMORROW in Oakland, featuring CA Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Numi Tea CEO Ahmed Rahim, industry leaders, federal lawmakers, and three days of in-depth education and networking

 

Oakland, CA – As California looks ahead to a potential vote on adult-use marijuana legalization in November, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will hold its third annual national conference, the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, in Oakland this week.

More than 3,000 cannabis professionals from 16 countries will gather at the Oakland Marriott City Center, June 20-22, including a “who’s who” of industry leaders and policy makers. The Summit takes place at a crucial time in history, with California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) ballot initiative expected to be certified for November voting, and the campaign fully underway.

(For information on media passes for the Summit, please see the bottom of this release.)

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will deliver the policy keynote address on Tuesday, June 21, at 11:00am. Newsom, who is running for Governor of California in 2018, is a key supporter for marijuana reform and legalization and a high-profile advocate for the benefits of embracing a legitimate cannabis industry.

Numi Organic Tea CEO and co-founder Ahmed Rahim will deliver the business keynote on Tuesday at 10:15am, sharing insights into his company’s embrace of the “quadruple bottom line” approach, best practices in moving toward organics and fair trade, and the importance and benefits of connecting with the local community. Rahim will be joined by Nutiva CEO and founder John Roulac and Denver Relief Consulting founding partner Kayvan Khalatbari.

NCIA, the only national trade association representing the businesses of the legal marijuana industry, moved the Cannabis Business Summit to California this year after two years in Denver.

Other Summit highlights include:

    • Putting It To a Vote: A Hard Look at Ballot Measures and Post- Election Predictions” with senior leaders of the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, and NCIA (Tuesday at 2:00pm)
    • “New Market Segments: Skincare, Health, and Beauty Products” (Tuesday at 3:00pm)
    • “What an Investor Wants: Insights from Investors for Securing Financing and Avoiding Risk” (Tuesday at 4:00pm)
    • “Keeping the Soul of the Movement Alive in the Industry” with Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center and Cody Bass of Tahoe Wellness Collective (Wednesday at 10:00am)
    • Best Approaches to Federal Legalization” with John Hudak of the Brookings Institute and Sarah Trumble of Third Way (Wednesday at 11:15am)
    • “Money Talks: Updates on the Cannabis Banking Issue” (Wednesday at 1:15pm)
    • Golden Opportunity: The Industry’s Role in California Legalization” with leaders involved in California’s adult-use legalization effort (Wednesday at 3:15pm)

A full list of speakers and a detailed agenda, can be found at CannabisBusinessSummit.com.

Several topic-oriented tracks will give attendees the opportunity to focus on their areas of expertise. Tracks offered include:

  • The Fine Print: Money, Law, and Your Business
  • Cultivation and Processing
  • Running Your Cannabusiness
  • Policy and Reform
  • Medical Applications of Cannabis
  • Leading Edge: Emerging Topics in the Cannabis Industry

Featured educational sessions will highlight some of the industry’s most influential pioneers and innovators.

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.

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Senate Appropriators Vote to Open Banking for Cannabis Businesses

Appropriations amendment would prevent penalties for banks serving state-compliant marijuana businesses

 

WASHINGTON, DC – A U.S. Senate committee voted today in support of opening up banking services to state-legal marijuana businesses. By a vote of 16-14, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, forbidding the use of federal funds to penalize financial institutions that serve marijuana businesses operating legally under state law. The amendment was offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

“For the second year in a row, the Senate’s budget writers have voted to address the banking crisis facing our 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.”

“While an appropriations amendment isn’t a permanent fix to the banking problem, it is a significant step to correct a dangerous and unfair burden on responsible small-business owners and regulators.

“Bipartisan coalitions in both chambers have supported these reforms. It’s time to make them the law of the land.”

A similar amendment was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2015, but was not debated in the House and was ultimately stripped out during final omnibus budget negotiations. In 2014, a similar amendment was passed overwhelming by the full House of Representatives, but was not debated in the Senate and was dropped during omnibus negotiations. The House has not yet debated the Financial Services Appropriations bill in 2016, but a repeat of the cannabis banking amendment is anticipated if and when that debate takes place.

Stand-alone legislation has also been introduced in both the House and the Senate which would permanently address the cannabis banking issue. The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act (S.1726 and H.R.2076) has received bipartisan support in both chambers.

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NCIA Debuts New Interactive Policy Map Powered by CannaRegs and New Frontier

CannaRegs offering demo of map and enhanced state regulation tracking services at NCIA’s Cannabis Business Summit

 

Denver, CO – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), in partnership with association members CannaRegs and New Frontier, announce the launch of a new State-by-State Marijuana Policies Map, providing a valuable, regularly updated overview of every state’s approach to cannabis and cannabis markets. This free resource, now available on NCIA’s website, will enable NCIA members and people interested in joining the cannabis industry to stay up-to-date with each state’s cannabis regulations and market size estimates.

The interactive map provides policy information compiled by CannaRegs, a web-based subscription service that provides enhanced access to all cannabis-related rules and regulations. The map’s information includes medical and adult-use laws, as well as the number of licenses for cannabis cultivations, dispensaries, manufacturers, and testing labs allowed and issued in the state, fee structures for applications and licenses, residency requirements, and qualifying medical conditions for patients.

The CannaRegs team will be on hand to demo the new feature, as well as their enhanced subscription services, at NCIA’s 3rd annual Cannabis Business Summit & Expo, June 20-22, in Oakland, California. To help NCIA further promote the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry, CannaRegs is also offering a 15% discount on its subscription service to all NCIA member businesses.

The map also includes current medical and adult-use sales estimates, as well as projected sales for the year 2020, provided by New Frontier, the industry analysis firm which publishes The State of Legal Marijuana Markets and other reports.

The information is updated as changes are made to regulations and more data becomes available. NOTE: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not legal advice or substitute for legal counsel.

“CannaRegs is excited to partner with NCIA in the creation and maintenance of the regulation map,” said Amanda Ostrowitz, founder of CannaRegs. “We are thrilled to help facilitate a service that will enable NCIA members to acquaint themselves with the regulatory landscapes of all 50 states. As the industry continues to evolve, it will become increasingly apparent that regulatory compliance is the foundation of successful businesses, and that easy access to all the law and regulation will be increasingly critical. As the laws continue to evolve the map will too so check back in often.”

“Thanks to the information provided by CannaRegs and New Frontier, visitors to the NCIA website now have a wealth of information at their fingertips,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “The cannabis industry is highly regulated and incredibly complicated, but our new map hits some of the most critical categories to give cannabis entrepreneurs and policymakers a valuable primer on markets across the nation.”

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The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization 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.

CannaRegs is a web-based subscription service for cannabis professionals that provides enhanced access to all cannabis-related rules and regulations from state, county, municipal, and federal sources, and aggregates these rules and regulations in an intuitive, easy-to-use database.

NCIA to Launch Knowledge-Sharing Platform Connecting Industry Experts with Entrepreneurs

First-of-its-kind Cannabis Expert Calling Network (ECN®) Kicks Off at NCIA’s Cannabis Business Summit and Expo

 

Washington, D.C. – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and Brainsy, Inc., are collaborating to launch the Cannabis Expert Calling Network (ECN®), a knowledge-sharing platform connecting cannabis industry experts with entrepreneurs and information-seekers online and via paid telephone consultations.

NCIA members who are experts in their area of the cannabis industry will be invited to set up personalized profiles on the Cannabis ECN system, which allows information-seekers to find and contact them, then conduct over-the-phone consultations at a rate set by the expert.

“With so many new people and businesses entering the cannabis industry, there is a huge demand for knowledge exchange across a range of topics including cultivation and processing, dispensary operations, intellectual property, regulatory compliance, banking issues, and many more,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA.

“The Cannabis ECN will allow high-caliber, experienced cannabis professionals a simple platform to share their expertise with the large number of people seeking them out and be compensated for their time.”

The Cannabis ECN will be unveiled online at https://cannabis.expertcallingnetwork.com on June 20, 2016, at NCIA’s 3rd Annual Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in Oakland, Ca. The Summit will include 3,000+ attendees, more than 150 exhibitors, six information-packed educational tracks, and hands-on workshops and tours.

At the core of the Cannabis ECN platform are personalized profiles, promotional tools, content sharing and distribution tools, paired with Brainsy’s patented ECN transactional calling platform. Invited experts in the Cannabis ECN will include selected speakers from the Cannabis Business Summit, as well as board members and other leaders within NCIA’s membership.

“We are pleased to be working with NCIA, the leading association in this industry,” stated Brian Christie, CEO of Brainsy, the ECN Platform provider. “We hope the Cannabis ECN will extend NCIA’s leadership of providing vital educational and business networking in the industry and will showcase how an ECN can help demystify topics of interest in a complex and rapidly evolving environment.”

Experts will self-designate their areas of specialty when participating in the ECN and will set their own rates to respond to Call Requests. Discussions can range from as little as 15 minutes to one hour in duration. Experts will also have access to features of the Personal Media ECN® including the ECN® InCall Badge which enables experts to monetize other social media platforms.

In conjunction with the launch, Brainsy is accepting applications from advertising sponsors that would like their brand highlighted on the ECN. Interested parties should contact Bill Sheehan at 855-742-7246 x706.

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The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization 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. More information at http://thecannabisindustry.org.

Brainsy offers patented Software as a Service (SaaS) to power Expert Calling Networks (ECN®) and showcase authors, mentors, subject matter experts, or advisors paid to share knowledge over the phone. Associations deploying a branded ECN can support members and earn non-dues revenue. Participating authors, mentors, advisors, and experts can boost their online profile, earn revenue, and win new clients. Brainsy is backed by successful entrepreneurs-turned-Angels and is a portfolio company of TomorrowVentures, founded by Alphabet (formerly Google) Chairman, Eric Schmidt. More information at http://www.expertcallingnetwork.com.

House Votes to Allow V.A. Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana for Veteran Patients

233-189 vote in favor of V.A. appropriations amendment indicates large increase in support from previous year

 

Washington, DC – The U.S. House voted this morning in favor of a measure that would allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend medical marijuana for their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. The measure, an amendment to the Department of Veterans Affairs appropriations bill proposed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), passed by a 44-vote margin, including 57 Republicans voting in favor. The final vote was 233-189. A similar amendment proposed in the House last year failed narrowly, 213-210.

“This is a policy that is long overdue, and it’s good to see such strong support for it in the House,” said National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) executive director Aaron Smith. “Medical marijuana has huge potential benefits for many of the issues that military veterans deal with, and it’s unconscionable to muzzle their doctors from talking about it.

“We hope this vote for common sense and compassion is the first step this year toward a smarter, saner approach to cannabis policy from Congress.”

NCIA members flooded the Hill last week for its 6th annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days. Nearly 150 cannabis professionals from across the country held nearly over 200 meetings with members of Congress and their staffs to press for cannabis policy reform. This year’s Lobby Days came just as Congress is beginning the appropriations process.

In past years, amendments to appropriations bills have successfully protected state-legal marijuana patients and providers from federal interference. Other amendments – including additions to address the banking situation and to protect all state-legal marijuana businesses and customers – have either passed in one chamber but been dropped during omnibus negotiations or failed very narrowly.

A CBS News national poll from last month shows that 56% of Americans support full legalization of marijuana, with an eye-popping 90% supporting legalization for medical use.

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NCIA Hosts the 3nd Annual Cannabis Business Summit in Oakland, CA: June 20-22

The most influential marijuana business event in the industry returns, featuring CA Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Numi Tea CEO Ahmed Rahim, industry leaders, federal lawmakers, and three days of in-depth education and networking in the nation’s largest legal marijuana market

Oakland, CA – The National Cannabis Industry Association, the only national trade association representing the businesses of the legal marijuana industry, will hold its third annual national conference, the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, in Oakland, CA, June 20-22, 2016, at the Marriott City Center.

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will deliver the policy keynote address on Tuesday, June 21. Newsom, who is running for Governor of California in 2018, is a key supporter for marijuana reform and legalization and a high-profile advocate for the benefits of embracing a legitimate cannabis industry.

Numi Organic Tea CEO and co-founder Ahmed Rahim will deliver the business keynote on June 21, sharing insights into his company’s embrace of the “triple bottom line” approach, best practices in moving toward organics and fair trade, and the importance and benefits of connecting with the local community.

This year the Cannabis Business Summit moves to California from Denver, bringing business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, and policy influencers to the largest legal marijuana market in the U.S. This move comes at a crucial time in history, with California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) ballot initiative expected to be certified for November voting, and the campaign fully underway.

The Cannabis Business Summit is also drawing global attention, with attendees representing Canada, China, Japan, Australia, Colombia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden.

The Cannabis Business Summit is not only positioned for business owners and operators across multiple verticals in the cannabis industry, but acts as a valuable introduction to a new frontier for outside industries looking to expand into a new space. The Summit offers a meeting ground for investors and entrepreneurs to connect with legitimate buyers and sellers already established in the market, as well as with the brightest minds behind promising start-ups.

Several topic-oriented tracks will give attendees the opportunity to focus on their areas of expertise. Tracks offered include: The Fine Print: Money, Law, and Your Business; Cultivation and Processing; Running Your Cannabusiness; Policy and Reform; Medical Applications of Cannabis; and Leading Edge: Emerging Topics in the Cannabis Industry. Featured educational sessions will highlight some of the industry’s most influential pioneers and innovators.

More Conference Highlights:

  • Educational facility tours and hands-on workshops
  • Sold-out expo floor
  • Multiple networking opportunities with worldwide industry leaders
  • Arcview’s Investor Forum (June 18-20)

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.

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NCIA and BDS Analytics Partner to Serve NCIA Members with Valuable Industry Data

NCIA members to receive free access to BDS Analytics’ GreenEdge™ cannabis sales dataset

 

Denver, Co. – Members of the National Cannabis Industry Association will be getting a valuable new benefit, thanks to a ground-breaking partnership with leading cannabis market intelligence firm BDS Analytics. Beginning in June 2016, NCIA member-businesses will receive free interactive access to crucial market and category-level sales data compiled and contextualized by BDS, the industry’s leading source of market data and business insight.

All NCIA members will have access to data and market intelligence reports through an interactive set of dashboards, spreadsheets, and detailed reporting powered by the GreenEdge™ sales tracking software developed by BDS. Reports will cover crucial insights such as market size and growth, dollar and unit volume, retail price trends, and shifts in category mix. Sponsoring and Sustaining NCIA members will gain access to even deeper levels of insight and reporting, including monthly executive reports, additional dashboards and reports, and personalized access to BDS Analysts.

With these reports, NCIA members will be able to make informed strategic decisions and answer critical business questions like:

  • What proportion of industry sales come from flower vs. extractions vs. infused products?
  • How big is the infused product market, and how fast is it growing?
  • How do infused product sales break down between infused foods, beverages, chocolates, topicals, and other categories?
  • What is the average retail selling price for an infused chocolate bar or a vaporizer oil cartridge?

BDS GreenEdge™ reports will drill down from high-level market reporting to more than 80 categories and sub-categories, spanning inhalable and infused products, topicals, devices, and other product categories. BDS currently collects data in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, and will be extending its reach to all other states with legal cannabis markets in the future.

“The first check BDS Analytics wrote was to become a member of NCIA,” said BDS Analytics CEO and co-founder Roy Bingham. “It is the leading voice for businesses in the cannabis industry, and we encourage everyone to join to ensure that the industry’s voice is loud, clear, and united. We are delighted that NCIA is making our GreenEdge service available to their nearly 1,000 member-businesses. I am sure that it will add great value to existing and new members and be yet another reason to join our trade association.”

“We hear from our members all the time that one of their biggest challenges is the scarcity of reliable market intelligence and data in the industry,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA. “Being able to offer this kind of data as an included benefit of NCIA membership is incredibly valuable. We’re proud to partner with BDS and grateful for their support of NCIA’s mission.”

“Having access to consistent, reliable, and credible market data helps NCIA’s members better run their businesses,” said Liz Stahura, BDS Analytics Vice President. “Every member company of NCIA will be able to log in to GreenEdge and access vital business intelligence about the industry 24/7. Through our experience serving industry association members in other industries, we’ve seen firsthand the positive impact of widespread access to market data. For us this is a great way to introduce the utility and business value of point-of-sale data analytics. NCIA members will also be invited to webinars and interactive sessions to enable them to make the most of the service.”

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The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization 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.

BDS Analytics is the indispensable source for cannabis industry market data and insights. Through its GreenEdge™ database and software service, BDS collects, processes and presents point-of-sale market share data for the cannabis industry. BDS provides actionable insights based on accurate information derived from millions of transactions that enables clients (dispensaries, brands and growers) to make smart decisions that sustain their success.  BDS comprises analytics-for-market research experts with more than fifty years’ experience in capturing and standardizing point-of-sale data, building and running extensive databases and providing reports and presenting data to clients and industry with prior experience in the natural products, outdoor, biking and skiing industries.

NEXT WEEK: 100+ Cannabis Business Leaders on Capitol Hill for NCIA’s Annual Lobby Days

Thurs., May 12: Morning press conference kicks off sixth annual fly-in lobby days for the legal marijuana industry

 

Washington, DC – Next week, cannabis industry leaders from across the country will travel to Washington, D.C., for the National Cannabis Industry Association’s sixth annual Lobby Days. More than 100 cannabis business professionals will take part in policy discussions and citizen lobby meetings to advocate for fair treatment of the legal cannabis industry.

On Thursday, May 12, NCIA leaders, business owners, and members of Congress will hold an 11:30am press conference at the House Triangle to kick off two days of meetings across the Hill between cannabis industry leaders and congressional staffs.

Top priorities for these business owners are a solution to the banking crisis, which prevents many legitimate cannabis businesses from accessing basic financial services, and reform to Section 280E of the federal tax code, which forces cannabis business to pay double or triple the effective federal tax rates of any other industry.

NCIA members will also advocate for the descheduling of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which would give states the authority to make their own decisions about how to handle cannabis legality, much as they currently do with alcohol.

Pennsylvania recently became the 24th state to legalize marijuana for medical use, and several states are likely to vote on adult-use or medical legalization initiatives in the 2016 elections, including California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida (medical), and Ohio (medical).

A CBS News national poll from last month shows that 56% of Americans support full legalization of marijuana, with an eye-popping 90% supporting legalization for medical use.

This year’s Cannabis Industry Lobby Days come just as Congress is beginning the appropriations process. In past years, amendments to appropriations bills have successfully protected state-legal marijuana patients and providers from federal interference. Other amendments – including additions to address the banking situation and to protect all state-legal marijuana businesses and customers – have either passed in one chamber but been dropped during omnibus negotiations or failed very narrowly.

More details and information about press attendance below.

Thursday, May 12
Press Conference and Lobby Days
11:30am – Press Conference with Members of Congress and cannabis business owners
House Triangle (House side of the Capitol’s East Front)
Media please RSVP to communications@thecannabisindustry.org.

Meetings between cannabis business leaders and congressional offices will take place throughout the day on both Thursday, May 12, and Friday, May 13. Meetings are generally closed to members of the media. For other coverage options or to arrange interviews with attendees or NCIA staff, please contact communications@thecannabisindustry.org.

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NCIA Calls on Sen. Grassley to Hold Hearings on Bipartisan Cannabis Legislation


As Grassley holds outdated prohibitionist hearing, he continues to obstruct bipartisan efforts to help medical marijuana patients and providers


Washington, DC
– The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) today called on Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to respect the will of the voters and bipartisan members of his own committee by holding hearings on the CARERS Act. The CARERS Act is bipartisan legislation, originally introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY), that would allow patients access to medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution and open up new avenues for research into marijuana’s medical potential.

While he continues to obstruct any action to help critically ill patients and the providers who care for them, Senator Grassley is holding a hearing tomorrow designed to conjure up outdated prohibitionist fear-mongering.

More than 80% of Americans believe patients should have legal access to medical marijuana. Sen. Grassley could be helping patients in need, supporting legitimate small businesses, and respecting the overwhelming will of the voters,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA. “Instead, he plays obstructionist again, refusing to even have a conversation about a bill that has the support of Republicans and Democrats alike.

“Sen. Grassley may be stuck in the past, but the rest of us are not. It’s time for him to do his job and hold real hearings on real legislation that could make a real difference for patients and providers across the country.”

In addition to the CARERS Act, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act also sits bottled up in Sen. Grassley’s Judiciary Committee, despite a recent national AP poll showing that 61% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis.

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RELEASE: NCIA Response to Dismissal of Marijuana Credit Union Lawsuit Against the Federal Reserve

NCIA exec. dir.:
“This ruling sends a message loud and clear – Congress must act.”

Washington, DC – A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Fourth Corner Credit Union against the Federal Reserve in hopes of providing banking services to the legal cannabis industry. In his ruling, Judge R. Brooke Jackson said Congress must provide the answer, stating, “I regard the [cannabis banking] situation as untenable and hope that it will soon be addressed and resolved by Congress.”

Fourth Corner is a credit union chartered by the State of Colorado and designed to serve legitimate cannabis businesses, but the Federal Reserve had denied its request for a master account, which would have allowed them to provide checking services to its members.

“This ruling sends a message loud and clear – Congress must act,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “There’s no shortcut, there’s no band-aid, there’s no work-around to fix this industry-wide.

“Forcing cannabis businesses to operate without banking access is a crisis, affecting public safety, law-abiding businesses, and the state officials in charge of regulating them. It’s time for Congress to do its job and fix the problem.”

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RELEASE: Sen. Harry Reid Signs on to Marijuana Banking Bill, Supports Nevada Small Businesses

National Cannabis Industry Association:
“We appreciate Senator Reid standing up for his constituents.”

Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today signed on as a co-sponsor to the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015 (S.1726), bipartisan legislation originally introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), which would give state-compliant cannabis businesses access to the banking system. Sen. Reid’s support for the banking measure comes as Nevada’s medical marijuana program has begun serving patients around the state.

“Medical cannabis providers in Nevada are giving compassionate care to critically ill patients, and they shouldn’t be putting themselves in danger to do it,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “We thank Senator Reid for supporting a fix to an irrational policy that puts people at risk and forces businesses and state officials to deal with massive logistical issues.

“Ending the banking crisis would be a win for everyone from patients to regulators to small business owners, and we appreciate Senator Reid standing up for his constituents.”

S.1726 would open up banking access for state-legal cannabis businesses by protecting financial institutions against prosecution or asset forfeiture for providing services to those businesses. Sen. Reid and Sen. Merkley are joined on the bill by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

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11/11 in Las Vegas: NCIA Celebrates 5th Anniversary with Reps. Barbara Lee and Dina Titus

Las Vegas, NV – The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will celebrate its fifth year of operation as the only national trade association for marijuana businesses with a gala dinner on Wednesday, November 11, in Las Vegas, featuring Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) as guest speakers.

At “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” NCIA’s 5th anniversary banquet, the organization will celebrate its history and that of the movement that helped create the cannabis industry, while looking ahead to the many challenges still to be faced. Rep. Titus will offer welcoming remarks.

During the banquet, NCIA will present the 2015 Legislative Leadership Award to Rep. Lee, a long-time champion of marijuana policy reform who has co-sponsored multiple pieces of legislation designed to protect cannabis businesses, patients, and consumers from federal interference. Included in those is the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act, NCIA’s priority legislation that would end the industry’s banking crisis and provide financial services for the state-legal cannabis businesses.

NCIA was founded in late 2010 by Aaron Smith and Steve Fox, seasoned advocates for marijuana policy reform who foresaw the need for a voice representing the businesses of the emerging cannabis industry in Washington, D.C. The organization was founded with fewer than 30 members, but has grown rapidly in its first five years, now representing over 900 member-businesses.

NCIA is the recognized leader in advocacy on behalf of cannabis businesses at the federal level, focused on fixing the industry’s lack of banking access and cripplingly unfair federal tax burdens. NCIA also helps build a responsible, sustainable cannabis business community, through dozens of educational and networking events nationwide, including the annual Cannabis Business Summit®.

More details about NCIA’s 5th anniversary banquet can be found below. Tickets can be purchased at http://thecannabisindustry.org/anniversary.

Looking Back, Moving Forward – NCIA’s 5th Anniversary Banquet
November 11, 2015
7pm – 10pm
The Vortex at the LINQ Hotel
3535 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV

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NCIA Executive Director Responds to Ohio Issue 3 Result

Washington, DC – Ohio voters today voted down Issue 3, a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana while creating a cultivation monopoly in the state. The initiative has been controversial, even among many marijuana legalization supporters, because its drafters included a provision that set aside all of Ohio’s initial cultivation licenses for the drafters themselves. National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith issued the following statement in response to the failure of Ohio’s Issue 3 ballot initiative tonight:

“The people of Ohio have understandably rejected a deeply flawed, monopolistic approach to marijuana reform that failed to garner broad support from advocates or industry leaders. This debate has shown that there is a strong base of support for legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana. Now the foundation has been laid for a potential 2016 effort that would put forward a more common-sense initiative and have a major impact on the presidential conversation in the process.”

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NCIA Applauds Sen. Sanders’s Move to Allow State Marijuana Policies Without Federal Interference

Sanders bill would remove marijuana from Controlled Substances Act, allow states to establish cannabis policies

Legislation would “mov[e] our nation toward a more rational approach to marijuana, consistent with what the American people want.”

Washington, DC – The National Cannabis Industry Association today applauded new legislation to be introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) which would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow it to be regulated similarly to alcohol. That approach would allow states that choose a legal, regulated approach to marijuana to move forward without federal interference and allow banking access and fair taxation to state-compliant cannabis businesses. (Read Senator Sanders’s prepared remarks, delivered on the Senate floor earlier today.)

“More than half of Americans now live in states where marijuana is legal in some form. And more than half of Americans now say marijuana should be fully legal,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “Federal law should respect these states, these voters, and the responsible cannabis businesses they support.

“Sen. Sanders’s bill would give state-legal cannabis businesses the fairness they deserve, treating them like any other law-abiding, job-creating, tax-paying small business.

“Our industry applauds Sen. Sanders for his leadership in moving our nation toward a more rational approach to marijuana, consistent with what the American people want.”

Sen. Sanders’s legislation 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.

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PRESS RELEASE: NCIA Executive Director Responds to Democratic Debate Answers on Marijuana

Washington, DC – Following the conclusion of the first Democratic presidential candidate debate tonight, in which Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were asked about marijuana legalization, National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith pointed out a consensus developing among the presidential candidates in both major parties.

“Despite differing specifics on marijuana policy, nearly every presidential candidate – Democrat and Republican – has now offered support for the continuation of state policy reforms,” said Smith. “Given that the 2016 election is likely to result in several new states with legal medical or adult-use marijuana programs, that’s a critical piece of progress.”

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.]

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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

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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.

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