In an effort to represent its cannabis business members, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) has pledged to host mid-quarterly cannabis caucuses in a dozen states (including the District of Columbia) and among the first places for their second quarter meeting was the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
The location is especially notable since last week’s response from the Obama administration to Senators requesting the rescheduling of marijuana. NCIA’s official position is that cannabis “is a harmless drug and should be completely de-listed and regulated at the state level like tobacco and alcohol. Rescheduling to III or lower is also something to talk about,” said Director of Government Relations at NCIA, Michael Correia.
In his opinion, “I’m a cynic and don’t think they will reschedule.” Correia said. The meeting had about a dozen or so attendees and began with a roundup of where NCIA’s attention is and the issues their membership fees are funding. Banking availability and fair taxing are top priorities — so is getting a Senate hearing on the CARERS Act. “To get a hearing by southern republicans is very difficult,” Correia said bluntly and he’s not joking. Just last week the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control had a meeting where Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) warned “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
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Currently, NCIA is putting their money to use fighting on behalf of members on the appropriations legislation, which funds the government for the upcoming fiscal year. “Speaker Paul Ryan wants ‘order’ which means he wants things to work as usual,” Correia said in his update while highlighting the fact that Congress hasn’t done much in the past two years to get in the way of marijuana reforms. On federal legalization, Correia thinks it will take years. “We want federal acceptance but that’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” he acknowledged.
These NCIA caucuses are opportunities for the cannabis trade representatives who normally spend most of their time on the Hill to engage members and the press.
One of the lawmakers in the way of reform that NCIA would like to see is Maryland Representative Andy Harris. The staunch anti-pot lawmaker who’s been painted as a cartoonish character by the cannabis industry is being challenged in Maryland’s elections next week by former Republican Delegate Mike Smigiel.
The self-described conservative Republican who is for state’s rights is obviously endorsed by the NCIA for stance on marijuana.
Smigiel gave his stump speech at the podium saying, “there are few times you have the ability to change history and there’s nothing more powerful than to take out the number one anti-marijuana person.” The NCIA disclosed that they have donated funds to Mike Smigiel’s run for Maryland’s 1st District.
The NCIA is calling for grassroots support in their call to action using #CannabisCaucus and #CannabisApprops to move Congress members to support what they believe is in their industry’s best interest.
NCIA caucuses are free to NCIA members only and can be found on their website. The 6th annual cannabis industry lobby days are May 12 and 13.
Visit www.TheCannabisIndustry.org/LobbyDays to register.