I attended the NCIA’s Lobby Days in Washington D.C. last week. It was my third Lobby Days in the last five years, and I have seen the influence of the cannabis industry in Congress progress. I was part of over 200 lobbyists from all over the country who visited every Congressperson’s office over two days. Here are my observations:
Congress understands they have a problem that needs to be addressed and fixed, especially when it comes to medical marijuana. They see the polls showing 80 percent of the voting public believe medical marijuana should be available to patients and full adult use is supported by many Americans.
The Congressmen and women and the staffers I spoke with said that Congress is “in no mood” to legalize marijuana at this time. However, they are not comfortable with conflicts between federal and state law, so they are looking for a political solution.
Over the next few weeks, watch for legislation to be introduced in the House and Senate to address the issue of “trafficking.” This legislation will not legalize cannabis but will approach legal cannabis from a state’s rights prospective.
Under this bill, offered and co-sponsored by wide political spectrum of democrats and republicans, the federal government would recognize that state compliant cannabis businesses are not “trafficking” and therefore not in violation of federal law.
If passed, in one fell swoop 280E would no longer apply and obstacles to banking would go away. In my opinion, this is a perfect solution because it fixes the two major legal problems facing the cannabis industry as it exists today: denial of ordinary business deductions under Internal Revenue Code section 280E, and lack of access to banking.
At the same time, cannabis would remain illegal outside the state licensed system. This will keep out big tobacco, big alcohol and big pharma for the time being, thus protecting the current cannabis industry.