As the end of prohibition approaches, the cannabis industry must work together to make ours an industry to be emulated by others, and ensure U.S. cannabis policy is built upon the foundations of fairness, inclusivity, sustainability, and opportunity for businesses of all sizes.
Media Relations Director, NCIA (National Cannabis Industry Association)
At the federal level, there is more support and momentum for comprehensive cannabis policy reform than ever before. The House of Representatives is considering the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act again after approving it in a historic vote in December 2020, and several other bills to end cannabis prohibition have been introduced there as well.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to make legalization a priority in this session and introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act in the upper chamber after accepting feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders. This level of congressional activity around ending prohibition is unprecedented.
There is also a significant amount of incremental legislation being considered — covering topics from research to improving access for veterans — that is much more likely to be passed into law in the current political climate. The best example of this is the Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would provide safe harbor for banks and other financial institutions to provide cannabis businesses with financial services and traditional lending, often cited as the biggest needs for social equity applicants and small businesses.
This legislation would immediately improve public safety, help level the playing field for smaller operators, and give them a chance to succeed in the cannabis industry, rather than forcing them to suffer under the status quo while their larger competitors further cement their positions in markets across the country. The SAFE Banking Act is also the bill that stands the most realistic chance of passing in the coming months — in fact, it has already been passed five times in the House of Representatives, and enjoys strong bipartisan support in the Senate.
Fair and equal
Clearly, comprehensive and incremental reforms in Congress are not mutually exclusive. History has shown that small victories have led to even bigger advances than were previously thought possible when it comes to cannabis. We will need to use both approaches if we want to create federal cannabis policy that is rooted in justice and repairs the harms caused by prohibition, while we also work to alleviate some of those harms now and not leave the most impacted communities behind in this nascent industry.
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With more states choosing to open legal, regulated cannabis markets, and Congress considering numerous cannabis policy reform bills, NCIA is proud of its ongoing advocacy efforts and will continue to work with policymakers at all levels to promote its core values, support its growing family of members, and give them the tools they need to succeed in this competitive space.
Empowering the industry
NCIA is happy to be able to get back to some of its activities that were put on hold in 2020, including the Midwest Cannabis Business Conference in September in Detroit, and the Cannabis Business Summit just a few weeks ago in San Francisco. These events are invaluable for prospective industry members, newcomers, and veterans to network and showcase their innovations, while learning from dozens of experts and industry leaders about the issues that most directly impact the cannabis industry now and in the future.
We are also very excited to be bringing back our annual Lobby Days in 2022 after a two-year pandemic hiatus. Historically, this event has brought hundreds of our members to Washington D.C. each year to directly engage with their elected representatives in support of sensible cannabis policy reforms at the federal level. This is just one of many ways cannabis industry professionals can get involved in the political process and influence change with NCIA.
No matter what kind of business you are involved in or how you are connected to cannabis, it has never been more important to get knowledgeable, get engaged, and get active if you care about what this market will look like in the future and what it will represent. Together, we can make the cannabis industry one to be emulated for generations.