Lobby Days 2016

Admittedly, I am a bit of a politics nerd. One of my favorite parts about working at Surna and in the cannabis industry is how uniquely tied we are to policy creation and how closely we must follow upcoming legislation. So attending NCIA’s 6th Annual Lobby days and being given the chance to visit Washington DC for the first time was a nerd’s dream come true.

May 19, 2016

Admittedly, I am a bit of a politics nerd. One of my favorite parts about working at Surna and in the cannabis industry is how uniquely tied we are to policy creation and how closely we must follow upcoming legislation. So attending NCIA’s 6th Annual Lobby days and being given the chance to visit Washington DC for the first time was a nerd’s dream come true.

Last week I, and nearly 150 other industry members, lobbied on the issues of access to banking and the impact of the Internal Revenue Code Section 280E on cannabis industry businesses. NCIA managed to get us into 150 sit down meetings at the Capitol over two days.

The first day of the event, the NCIA team walked us through the ins and outs of the legislation on the table for the 114th Congress including the Small Business Tax Equity Act and the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act. From there, we attended a press conference with supporters from Congress including Jared Polis, Earl Blumenauer, Denny Heck and more.

After the press conference, we got into our teams and set off to educate policymakers on our issues. My first office of the day was Rep. Niki Tsongas from Massachusetts. Her office was extremely receptive.

Throughout our all of our meetings, we educated members of Congress that limited access to banking services means that many cannabis businesses are forced to operate on an all-cash business and that 280E prevents state-legal cannabis businesses from deducting standard business expenses like marketing expenses or office supplies.

Like any educational endeavor, we encountered our challenges. We did make our way across one opponent to legalizing medical or adult use cannabis, but the conversation remained productive in providing educational points and he was very gracious in receiving us.

Did that one challenging encounter deter us? No. We picked our chins up and like any good lobbyist or activist, we continued on with the mission to educate – a mindset that has been crucial in getting our industry to where it is today and that is much needed in progressing the industry forward.

Overall, the experience was a great introduction to DC and being more active in supporting the progress of the industry at a higher level. Thank you to NCIA for organizing a fantastic few days and keeping us all organized.

For more information about these issues, please visit NCIA’s website and, I’ve already started the countdown to Lobby Days 2017!

-Katie O’Block

Katie O’Block is a natural-born storyteller. Armed with an affinity for media, messaging, and branding, she has worked with Boulder-based companies to tell their brand story through digital content. 

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