Advancing the Legal Cannabis Industry

By Michelle Rutter, National Cannabis Industry Association The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the only national trade association advancing the interests of the legitimate and responsible cannabis industry. Our industry supports tens of thousands of jobs, tens of millions in tax revenue, and billions in economic activity in the United States. NCIA is leading the unified and coordinated campaign to ensure this emerging sector is treated fairly under federal law.

Above all else, the National Cannabis Industry Association exists to represent the interests of legitimate and responsible cannabis-related businesses in our nation’s capital. Our core mission is to ensure that our members are treated like businesses in any other American industry.

State-legal cannabis businesses should not pay higher effective tax rates than other businesses or struggle to find bank accounts. And business owners certainly should not face the possibility of arrest and prosecution by federal authorities when they are acting in compliance with state and local laws.

NCIA is leading the charge to ensure that state-sanctioned cannabis businesses will someday be able to take the same tax deductions as any other legitimate businesses. Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits businesses involved in “drug trafficking” from deducting normal business expenses from their gross income. This policy is being unfairly applied to medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries operating legally under state law, resulting in their federal tax burden being significantly higher than that imposed on any other business. As a result of NCIA’s work, legislation addressing this problem is now pending in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. If approved, the Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2015 (S. 987 & H.R. 1855) will exempt state-legal cannabis businesses from Section 280E. NCIA is working with members of Congress to build support for this important legislation on Capitol Hill and in the public arena.

Nobody benefits when legal cannabis businesses are unable to work with financial institutions. A large number of banks in this country are reluctant or simply not willing to work with entities involved in the sale of cannabis, even when those sales are legal under state law. This is causing major difficulties for thousands of business owners and state tax collection agencies forced to operate on a cash-basis. NCIA is dedicated to finding a solution to this problem by supporting legislation that will give all banks the confidence they need to work with cannabis businesses. NCIA advocated for the introduction of the “Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015,” (H.R. 2076 & S. 1726) which provides a safe harbor to financial institutions doing business with state-legal cannabis providers. We are also continuing to work with a variety of interested parties to push for an administrative solution to this problem.

In addition to direct lobbying for changes in the law, NCIA promotes the economic benefits of the cannabis industry to an audience largely unfamiliar with the incredible progress being seen across the country. We make sure that the industry is given the credit it deserves for creating good jobs, generating tax revenue and operating in a manner that best serves its customers, while respecting societal concerns. To join the revolution, visit