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What Does the National Cannabis Industry Association Do?

Few, if any, major movements accomplish their goals without organization. It’s the backbone of civil action and reform efforts, from civil rights to alcohol prohibition. The push for cannabis legalization is no different. Although there are multiple activists and advocacy groups, from doctors to recreational users, the National Cannabis Industry Association exists to represent the views of the new cannabis industry.

Yet, there remains some confusion about what the National Cannabis Industry Association is, how it functions, and what it does for cannabis-related businesses.

Learn about how the National Cannabis Industry Association assists and lobbies on behalf of cannabis businesses below. We’ll also explain its founding, fortunes, and future. 

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What is the National Cannabis Industry Association?

Formed in 2010, the National Cannabis Industry Association, or NCIA, is the “oldest, largest, and most effective trade association representing legal cannabis businesses”. It was founded following the US Justice Department’s Ogden memo that directed federal prosecutors not to prioritize medical marijuana patients complying with state laws. 

This landmark decision – temporarily reversed by the Sessions’ memo – provided a degree of protection to marijuana-related businesses and their customers previously hadn’t known. With greater freedom to operate, the fledgling industry needed a trade association to represent them.

The NCIA was born.

What does the National Cannabis Industry Association do?

The National Cannabis Industry Association is a nationwide nonprofit tasked with advancing the legal and responsible cannabis industry. The association is backed by approximately 2,000 cannabis-related businesses and tens of thousands of professionals working in the industry. 

Such businesses reflect the diversity of the current cannabis landscape, including dispensaries, cannabis cultivators, extraction laboratories, and cannabis consulting firms. Even brands like Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which aren’t directly related, but firmly support hemp and drug policy reform are counted as members.

Using its members’ money and resources, the NCIA aims to protect the legal cannabis industry, defend existing state laws, and push for further federal reform.

Throughout the year, the NCIA runs socials, caucus series, lobby days, and trade shows to further the interests of its members. It also reports on the latest industry news; and keeps its members up-to-date with everything in the legislative arena. 

How does the NCIA lobby Congress?

All change begins with ideas; it’s why the NCIA’s Policy Council is the industry’s leading policy “think tank”. They evaluate recent developments and the industry needs, to develop robust public policy recommendations for state-legal cannabis businesses. 

Through the NCIA’s Political Action Committee (PAC), their policy goals are advocated directly to politicians. The NCIA-PAC also backs candidates for public office who support forward-thinking reforms regarding the legal cannabis industry. 

To hold politicians accountable, they keep a Congressional and Presidential Scorecard. It evaluates each member or candidates’ performance relating to issues of medical marijuana, adult use, and banking access. So, you know who’s truly got your back.

At the time of writing, the NCIA is backing nine bills throughout the Federal Government, including the SAFE Act, which will protect financial institutions serving cannabis businesses, and the MORE Act, which will reschedule cannabis and eliminate criminal penalties for prior possession, distribution, and manufacture of cannabis. 

It’s safe to say the National Cannabis Industry Association is an active force for the sector at all levels of government. Working alongside trusted candidates and politicians, it’s dedicated to changing the current cannabis legal landscape.

Where is the NCIA based? 

Because of the coast-to-coast importance the NCIA runs offers throughout the country. Their main Capitol Hill office in Washington DC focuses on government and media relations. Meanwhile, their membership services and events team are based in Denver, Colorado. Finally, they also maintain remote staff in California and Washington State.

You can contact the NCIA via their specific channels:

General Inquiries Media Inquiries Membership Information Business Development
(888) 683-5650 (202) 780-1302 (303) 223-4247 (323) 347-7932
info@thecannabisindustry.org media@thecannabisindustry.org membership@thecannabisindustry.org bizdev@thecannabisindustry.org
Events Information Sponsorship Marketing & Communications
(303) 223-4135 (323) 347-7932 (303) 223-9727
events@thecannabisindustry.org sponsorship@thecannabisindustry.org communications@thecannabisindustry.org


How to join the National Cannabis Industry Association

Becoming a member is more than just supporting the fight for legalization. The NCIA estimates membership brings thousands of dollars in value.

There are three levels to membership:

  1. Seedling Membership. Tailored towards industry startups, the Seedling Membership provides startups, micro-businesses, and entrepreneurs a chance to learn about the marijuana industry and access numerous benefits. (Annual Dues: $1,000)
  2. Blooming Membership. For businesses undergoing growth: you experience all the benefits of a Seedling Membership, alongside the ability to market your company to NCIA’s premier business community and VIP networking opportunities (Annual Dues: $25,000)
  3. Evergreen Membership. It’s designed for successful cannabis businesses wanting to take a leading role in shaping policy for the industry. Members will have access to private briefings from members of Congress, inside NCIA information, and greater opportunities to participate in the national conversation. (Annual Dues: $25,000)

Across the industry, there’s almost unanimous support for the organization, and members report significant benefits. Perhaps, best of all is the chance to network and meet like-minded business owners, discuss future cannabis policy, learn more about the industry, and build industry connections to carry your business forward. 

You can apply to join on the NCIA’s site. You’ll need to follow their code of conduct:

In addition, the membership dues can be tax-deductible as a business expense—just another perk of joining this blooming association.

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