National Cannabis Industry Association
By Gooey Rabinski
Cannabiz Business Journal recently caught up with Bethany Moore, the Communications and Projects Manager at the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). The NCIA is a national trade group in the United States that represents the “legal, regulated cannabis industry nationwide.”
Moore discussed how the NCIA is focused on the banking crisis facing cannabis businesses, the need to deschedule (not reschedule) the plant at the federal level and how the current state of the IRS tax code hinders businesses nationwide.
In her role at the NCIA, Moore is responsible for member communications, including media partnerships. She has extensive experience in nonprofit activism, drug policy reform and church-state separation issues. Originally from Washington, DC, Moore relocated to Denver in January 2014.
Cannabiz Journal: “Bethany, tell us more about the National Cannabis Business Association and your role in helping the organization achieve its goals.”
Bethany Moore: “We are the national trade association. So we represent the legal, regulated cannabis industry nationwide here in the United States. We have a full-time lobbying team in Washington, DC, working on issues to fix the banking crisis that our industry faces. We’re also working on reforming the tax code, Section 280E, which doesn’t allow cannabis businesses to take normal business deductions.
“Also, in the long game, we would love to deschedule marijuana off the Controlled Substances Act.”
CBJ: “Completely deschedule, not reschedule….”
BM: “Not reschedule, deschedule. We have a social media campaign with the hashtag “#deschedulenow.” As a trade association, we represent the businesses that support the cannabis industry. That’s the growers, the dispensary owners, the extractors….”
CBJ: “That’s on both sides, rec and medical?”
BM: “Yes, both. Any kind of legal medical or adult use state program … there are companies there. And also on the ancillary side, we’ve got the accountants and lawyers and packaging supply folks….”
CBJ: “Everything that legitimizes the industry….”
BM: “Yes, you got it. We represent over 1000 of those companies.”
CBJ: “You folks are working on some legislation. You’re like a lobbying group; you send people to the Hill [in DC] to get stuff done.”
BM: “Absolutely. We have two full-time lobbyists in DC. We also contract with two well-known lobbying firms that we hire to support our lobbying efforts. Those are very expensive [laughs]. At the federal level, we’re working on what affects people in 50 states. As more of these states have ballot initiatives and come online to the industry….”
CBJ: “We’re seeing a few this year….”
BM: “I know, it’s very exciting! I expect our membership to double in the next year, if all goes well with those individual states.”
CBJ: “How can companies join the National Cannabis Industry Association?”
BM: “It’s very easy to join. Companies need only visit our website at www.thecannabisindustry.org. Simply click Join Now and fill in the info. New members receive a welcome package a couple of weeks later with some cool stuff. More importantly, membership plugs in members to a network of more than 1000 companies within the industry.
“We also have a political action committee that allows us to make influential donations to members of Congress .. .the ones who are supportive of our issues.
“In fact, last summer we had a PAC fundraiser for a presidential candidate, Rand Paul. He was the only candidate that the NCIA marked as a “green light” on cannabis issues because he co-sponsored the CARERS Act. We had the first cannabis-funded presidential fundraiser!”
CBJ: “What type of resources are available online to your members?”
BM: “We have a lot of resources on our website. You can learn which members of Congress are supporting which cannabis bills, you can see our presidential scorecard, there’s a great blog that our members contribute to. Members really get plugged into our community.”
CBJ: “Does the NCIA reach into the states that lack medical and recreational cannabis laws, where possibly there is simply a group like NORML that is trying to start an effort?”
BM: “To be honest, the group that changes laws is Marijuana Policy Project, MPP. They go in and change laws. Or they help. Once those states open up for the industry, then we’re there as the industry association. Our scope is federal, so when we have networking events in some of these other states, we invite people from the local campaign to talk. But that’s a different scope of work.”
CBJ: “What is on the horizon for the NCIA?”
BM: “Our list of legislation is something for folks who are in the cannabis industry to really get familiar with. [They need to] understand the banking crisis and learn what Section 280E of the [IRS] tax code is.”
“Then there’s a bunch of other benefits to membership, as well. We are a trade association, after all, so in addition to the warm and fuzzy in [a member’s] heart for supporting reform, we have some other great ways to get involved, too.”