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An Inside Story of Lobbying in America: One Year of the U.S. Cannabis Council

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February 8 marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC), an organization created to advance cannabis legalization at the federal and state level, and promote restorative justice for communities harmed by cannabis prohibition.

Although different perspectives cohabitate within the Council on cannabis issues, in 2021, the group consolidated a strong voice. The professional lobbyists working at the USCC share a common goal: to see the end of federal prohibition and the de-scheduling cannabis, which they believe should be treated similarly to alcohol.

“That is a high goal that everyone agrees on,” said Steven Hawkins, president, and CEO of the USCC, in an exclusive interview with Benzinga.

Lobbying in America

The group recognized that when a generalized consent among the U.S. population and states coalesced around marijuana legalization, it was the moment to join forces to legalize cannabis in some form. The multiple times the House of Representatives voted to legalize cannabis, a majority leader in the Senate who supports legalization on record, and the election of a Vice President who supported cannabis legalization while a Senator, are corollaries of this moment that the group interpreted “as a right moment for change.”

“We realized we could not be effective if every organization was lobbying in Congress on its own, we would be stronger together, and that led to the creation of USCC which has over 60 members, some of the largest companies in the industry, and some of the leading advocacy organizations in the country as well as trade groups that have all come together for the highest purpose of seeing the end of federal prohibition and make sure there are opportunities for reform along the way,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins expanded on the work of the USCC and how they approach legislators in DC.

“We have had several hundred meetings in 2021 with elected officials in Congress. We work with a team of professionals who have worked in Congress before and we build on a network of relationships with ‘champion’, legislators who have long supported a change in cannabis law.”

In order to advance cannabis legalization, the group may use focus groups to get a sense of what messages best resonate with audiences, and pollings, that may be used to provide elected officials with a clear sense of where their constituency stands.

“Questions like ‘Would you support a candidate who favors cannabis legalization?’ are questions legislators are interested in,” Hawkins said. “Those are elements …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

Original Source: benzinga.com

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Congress Under Pressure: Colorado Officials Push for Cannabis Banking Reform

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With the end of Congress’ session just around the corner, marijuana advocates, stakeholders and lawmakers continue to push for marijuana banking policy change.

This time, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) joined forces with Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera (D), Attorney General Phil Weiser (D), Treasurer Dave Young (D) and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Executive Director Stan Hilkey in urging congressional leaders to revisit the issue, reported Marijuana Moment.

In a letter sent on Monday to both House and Senate leaders, Colorado officials focused on the impact which a bipartisan marijuana banking bill will have in terms of public safety and industry equity,

“The lack of safe banking and financial services for the cannabis industry in the State of Colorado has become a dire public safety issue for highly regulated cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

Original Post: benzinga.com

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New Data Shows Weed Legalization a Boon for Real Estate, New Jobs and Tax Revenue

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A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank shed light on the economic impact marijuana legalization has had in recent years, reported Marijuana Moment. Policy changes on the state level have resulted in increased commercial real estate demand, as well as a surge in tax revenues while creating more jobs.

According to an analysis from the Kansas City arm of the Central Bank, which collected data from several states under its jurisdiction, the Tenth Federal Reserve District, the cannabis industry has become one of the main economic sectors positioned to grow substantially in the coming period.

“Overall, the marijuana industry has had a significant effect on the economies of Tenth District states in the initial years after legalization,” the report said. “The emergence of the industry has …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

Article: benzinga.com

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Will Missouri Legalize Cannabis? Amendment 3 Suffers Another Attack This Time by State NAACP

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Cannabis legalization efforts in Missouri are under attack once again, this time by The Missouri State Conference of the NAACP.

What Happened

The Missouri NAACP, breaking with chapters in the St. Louis area is urging its members to vote against Amendment 3 on the Nov. 8 ballot, reported the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.

The group announced Thursday that it believes recreational marijuana legalization, as it is proposed under Amendment 3, would prevent minorities from entering the cannabis industry. 

“Marijuana possession should not be a constitutional crime. Additionally, for years now, Black people, other minorities, and people who have been criminalized by marijuana laws in the past have been unable to enter the medical marijuana market,” the Missouri NAACP wrote. “That is not right. In an effort to prevent the permanent exclusion of minorities from the cannabis industry in the state of Missouri, the NAACP calls upon every voter to reject the criminalization of marijuana possession, de facto racist regulation of the cannabis market, and the wool being pulled over our eyes by the supporters of Amendment 3.”

Under Amendment 3, the first “comprehensive” cannabis business licenses would be provided to existing medical marijuana companies. 

The state’s chapter highlighted that the amendment “does not increase the number of available full market licenses” and claims that giving “micro” business licenses to disadvantaged groups makes a “very limited” program. 

According to Nimrod “Rod” Chapel Jr., president of the Missouri NAACP, members agreed last week …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

Source: benzinga.com

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