Growth equals green in more ways than one. The cannabis industry wants a seat at the table with lawmakers. The burgeoning industry is working to ensure continued growth, and it’s putting money where it counts, with a forecast for spending $3.2 million on lobbyists in Washington. This slightly eclipses the $2.7 million it spent lobbying lawmakers and regulators in 2018.
Hear Me, Hear Me
The emphasis on lobbying is a result of several Congressional bills that affect the cannabis industry, like the STATES Act and the SAFE Banking Act. The STATES Act would protect states with legalized marijuana, while the SAFE Banking Act would assist banks that service companies in the cannabis industry.
While the dollars spent are a fraction of those spent by Facebook Inc ($7.5 million), for example, the increase in spending on lobbying indicates that the marijuana industry is mirroring other sectors and possibly as a result of causing friction with other industries — alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals — for example.
Policy and Reform
Two cannabis companies, Curaleaf Holdings Inc. and Surterra Holdings Inc., were among the cannabis industry’s big spenders in Washington, lobbying on behalf of the STATES Act and the SAFE Banking Act. Disclosures of Q2 spending filed in July 2019 show that Curaleaf spent $200,000 and Surterra spent $120,000 in the same quarter on lobbying efforts. Likewise, other cannabis-related players spent time and money lobbying on issues, including patent and trademark protection, medical marijuana regulation, federal legalization and expunging marijuana-related criminal records.
The push for cannabis-policy reform at the federal level is vital. Until marijuana is federally legal, the conundrum of state legality will continue to affect banking and other business-related aspects of the industry.
Ned Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation, said in a July 25 statement, that, “We are pleased to see significant momentum building behind the push for cannabis-policy reform at the federal level. From our perspective, it is especially pleasing to see the growth in bipartisan support for the STATES Act, which now has 60 co-sponsors in the House, including 15 members of the Judiciary Committee.” Levine noted that the STATES Act continues to be a “top priority.”
To Be Continued
While several industry players are optimistic about the future of the SAFE Banking Act, others, including analysts, are not as hopeful that it will become law anytime soon, owing to sparse attendance by republicans at a hearing in a July Senate Banking Committee hearing, “Challenges for Cannabis and Banking.” Their absence reinforced the opinion that the GOP is not prioritizing the SAFE Banking Act. While it might get passed eventually, it’s certainly does not appear to be a prime concern at the present time.