The Cannabis Alliance sent me to Washington DC for the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) 8th annual lobby days, May 21-23. The Cannabis Alliance had 4 board members in attendance:
AC Braddock, Eden Labs
John Davis, Northwest Cannabis
Danielle Rosellison, Trail Blazin' Productions
Caitlein Ryan, Seven Hills Farm
This year's NCIA's Lobby Days brought over 200 cannabis industry professionals to Washington, D.C. to tell our personal stories and urge our representatives to fix the unfair federal policies crippling the cannabis industry with regards to banking and tax reform, with an undercurrent of de-schedulization.
There was training first thing Tuesday morning, reviewing how the week would unfold. We had all participated in an hour of training prior to arrival, and this reiterate most of that. Don't be late. Do not have cannabis on you. Do not smell like cannabis. Always be respectful. These are your talking points. Tell personal stories about how banking and taxes have negatively affected your ability to contribute to economic development.
Davis, Ryan and myself met with the staff of the following elected officials:
Representative Derek Kilmer (D) WA-06
Representative Sam Graves (R) MO-06
Puerto Rico At-Large District Jennifer Gonzales-Colon (R) PR-01
Senator Patty Murry (D) WA
Senator Maria Cantwell (D) WA
We had an app that showed us when and where and with whom all our meetings were. This allowed us to review our elected officials previous voting history and know what we were walking into. Our goal was to turn:
Vocal "no's" into "quiet no's"
"Quiet no's" into "neutrals"
"Neutrals" into "yes's"
"Yes's" into "champions"
We were also able to answer surveys regarding how the meeting went, send thank you notes, etc. The entire event was incredibly well organized.
During the training, we were also introduced to firm that was hired by the NCIA who has worked directly with Trump and Kuschner since long before they were in the White House. They have sat down with the president over a course of meetings and explained NCIA's position. Remember, Trump doesn't drink or consume cannabis, so he knew very little. The firm said that today, the president could have a conversation with anyone on the issue and sound very knowledgeable. I thought that this was great and really showed the value of the NCIA, who has been the national association pushing for reform for almost a decade now.
Caitlein and I went to a reception for the Organic Trade Commission (OTC) and rubbed elbows with traditional organic farmers from all over the country. Lara sits on the organic workgroup in WA with a representative from the OTC and he, Nate, invited us to the reception. He was wonderful! Open, introduced us to everyone that came over, even though he knew we are probably not the most popular people in the room. It was great and it's those kinds of strategic partnerships that we try to create at every opportunity.
You'll be happy to know that WA leads the county as far as "households that regularly buy organic produce" at 92%, followed closely by CA at 91%. South Dakota was last at 67%, but they are also the fastest growing market for organic produce in the country. So....organic cannabis is a good idea and we should be cognoscente of helping farmers understand the value of "organic" and pricing accordingly.
On a personal note, as many of you know I've been pounding the pavement in Olympia for 3 years now, so you would think that going to DC would be a piece of cake. But man, was I nervous! It's just a different level. I was lucky to be there with Davis and Braddock, since they are board members of the NCIA they are veterans when it comes to lobbying in DC with regards to banking and tax reform. They were smooth. They were on target. They led the conversations, while allowing their team members to speak whenever possible. And they knew where we were going!! Conquering our fears, and putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations, is the definition of growth.
I was proud to represent The Cannabis Alliance in DC and I think it helped us grow, personally and as an association. I hope you will join us next year. You can find more info HERE.
President, The Cannabis Alliance