A broad trend of cannabis industry belt-tightening has now affected advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., with many trade organizations slashing their lobbying budgets or in some instances shuttering the efforts altogether.
Individual companies have also taken the axe to how much they spend on federal lobbyists, STAT reported, which includes heavy hitters such as Curaleaf (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF), Columbia Care (Cboe/NEO: CCHW) (CSE: CCHW) (OTC: CCHWF), and Pax Labs.
Both the Cannabis Trade Federation and the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce appear to have closed up shop completely, STAT reported.
The National Cannabis Industry Association is still operating, but laid off several staff earlier this year – including former chief lobbyist Michael Correia. In the first six months of 2023, NCIA spent just $100,000 on lobbying, down from $285,000 in the first half of 2019. The nonprofit’s operating budget has also been cut by more than 50%, STAT reported, to $1.9 million from over $4 million.
But don’t interpret that as cannabis advocacy is dead.
The National Cannabis Roundtable “has kept its lobbying spending relatively steady,” STAT reported, while the U.S. Cannabis Council has actually slowly ramped up its spending on lobbying, as as the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp.
USCC spent $150,000 just in the last quarter on lobbying for federal reform, STAT reported, while ATACH has spent $50,000 so far this year on lobbying, the same amount it spent for all of last year. USCC also founded a super political action committee and intends to spend even more on lobbying efforts, a spokesman told the news outlet.
The apparent downturn – or at least consolidation – of industry lobbying comes at a time when federal marijuana reform has arguably never been closer – or more elusive.
The bipartisan SAFE Banking Act, popular legislation designed to open up the national banking system to cannabis companies, has reportedly stalled again in a Senate committee. But several industry stakeholders monitoring the Biden administration’s marijuana rescheduling review that launched last year have predicted cannabis will be legalized via rescheduling, which could happen before the end of the year.
That’s a hot enough issue that several members of the USCC put together yet another advocacy group, the Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform, which released a white paper recently on the topic.