The legal cannabis industry has been making a serious push to garner more political influence in the past few months.
Leading the way is the National Cannabis Industry Association, which has spent over $60,000 lobbying to Congress and regulators so far during 2014, which is over double what was spent in the entirety of 2013. NCIA’s political action committee also spent campaign money in an attempt to sway tight midterm races. One example being Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has been governor since the state approved the legalization of cannabis in 2012 and has overseen the rollout process.
Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said that “just like any other business sector in this country, we have a vested interest in ensuring that federal policy is favorable to business conditions for these small-business owners and job creators.” Canna-business-owners want to push towards a system of free-market capitalism, as opposed to the current market, in which they are forced to operate under stringent restrictions and setbacks such as the inability to bank or the inability to file certain tax exemptions that other businesses take for granted.
The National Cannabis Industry Association launched in 2010 and has grown to more than 800 members since that time as cannabis legalization has spread. Voters have created legal markets for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. Medical use is legal with varying restrictions in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
The NCIA’s top priorities are to remove cannabis from the federal list of prohibited controlled substances and to allow states to regulate its legal sale and personal use.