Legal cannabis has come a long way since California voters approved the first medical marijuana program in the nation over twenty years ago. And since 2010, the National Cannabis Industry Association has worked tirelessly to support the growth of a responsible and legitimate industry, represented in some form in more than two-thirds of the country. In this post, we explore some of the ways NCIA has helped usher in progress as it celebrates 10 years as the industry’s largest and most influential trade association.
Improving Access to Banking
From its start, NCIA has championed for the fair treatment of cannabis in a manner consistent with every legal industry in America. That includes pushing for sensible banking policies to address unwillingness on the part of banks and credit card providers to work with legal cannabis businesses out of fear of breaking federal money laundering laws. This discrepancy has created an all-cash structure, resulting in both public safety risk and undue regulatory headaches.
When then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued guidance allowing financial institutions to serve compliance cannabis companies in 2014, NCIA applauded the move. The organization then converged in Washington D.C. with a bipartisan group of legislators and industry leaders from multiple legal states to brief Congress on the banking and taxation issues facing the new industry. A few months later, the House voted to allow access to banking services for cannabis business owners and operators in legal states. This bipartisan effort – supported by the submission of NCIA’s written testimony and the stories of personal hardship from nearly 100 industry professionals – would pave the way for the introduction and subsequent approval by the House Financial Services Committee of the 2019 SAFE Banking Act. If passed, this legislation will prevent federal regulators from punishing financial institutions that choose to work with compliant cannabis businesses.
Cultivating Influence With Events & Membership
When NCIA was founded by Aaron Smith and Steve Fox in 2010, it had fewer than 30 members. Within five years membership grew to more than 900 member-businesses, and today NCIA represents nearly 2,000 businesses and tens of thousands of cannabis business owners, operators, and professionals. NCIA membership benefits extend beyond national political representation to include exclusive access to education and industry insights including retail data. Guided by the principle of power in numbers, NCIA also invites members to participate in a range of events as part of its overall commitment to increasing the industry’s influence and ensuring its sustainability.
When NCIA hosted its first Washington D.C. Lobby Day in 2011, six association members joined the event. In 2016 over 100 professionals participated, attending lobby and policy meetings to advocate on behalf of the industry. NCIA’s first Cannabis Business Summit in 2014 drew more than 1,200 industry professionals to Denver. Just two years later, more than 3,000 professionals from sixteen countries and a whos-who of industry thought leaders – including keynote speaker then-Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome – were among the many highlights at NCIA’s third annual Cannabis Business Summit in Oakland.
NCIA Returns to the Bay
This year the National Cannabis Industry Association celebrates 10 years of progress by hosting its next Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in the city that launched medical cannabis: San Francisco. Join us June 15-17, 2020 at Moscone Center for #CannaBizSummit, the leading business-to-business cannabis tradeshow focused on empowering the industry through education, advocacy, and community. Receive invaluable insights, explore best practices, and network with novice and experienced cannabis business owners from around the country. Join us for the only cannabis business conference and expo organized by the industry’s largest and most influential trade organization – Registration is now open!