NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith speaks at last year’s Lobby Days.

Since voters approved Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Washington’s Initiative 502 in 2012, the cannabis industry has experienced unparalleled economic growth. Colorado alone generated $1.5 billion in sales in 2017.

While the states approving legalization—nine, plus the District of Columbia so far—provide immense opportunities for businesses of all sizes, the legal foundation on which these programs are being built remains precarious. Until federal policies like Section 280E (no tax deductions allowed) and unfair banking laws (few accounts allowed) that negatively affect the industry are reformed, its growth will be stunted.

It’s every American’s First Amendment right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances,” and our 8th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days on May 21-23 will rally more than 300 industry professionals in Washington to advocate for policy reform. At Lobby Days, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) members get the opportunity to come together to make their voices heard in the halls of Congress, while simultaneously forging strong relationships with the most influential leaders in the industry.

“Things have shifted tremendously since I first started coming to Lobby Days six years ago,” says NCIA board member Ean Seeb. “The fact that we’re being asked questions when we go into these meetings, we’re not being pushed out of the room and people aren’t laughing at us, is a lot further than we used to be. “

NCIA members gather in front of the Capitol.

NCIA’s Government Relations team in Washington represents our more than 1,500 members year-round. Lobby Days are an opportunity for business owners to connect with hundreds of Capitol Hill staffers personally for two days.

Participants are also invited to mix and mingle with our champions in Congress at events held throughout the two days. At the 2017 Lobby Days, they were able to meet numerous members of Congress, including Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).

With nearly two-thirds of the seats in Congress from states that now allow some form of legal cannabis, the momentum to end prohibition is gaining strength. The policy reformation needed to transform the industry’s potential into reality is ultimately dependent on passionate, engaged advocates and professionals who participate in this exciting and sometimes intimidating democratic process.

Register for the NCIA Lobby Days here.

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About Aaron Smith

Executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)

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