What did the OCA learn in Washington DC?

Friends and members,

On June 21st and 22nd, 2017, the Oregon Cannabis Association (OCA) met with the offices of over 40 members of Congress as a part of their third annual lobbying fly-in to Washington, D.C.

Asks included supporting federal legislation focused on issues including tax equity, safe access to banking, and the opening-up of federal pathways to more comprehensive cannabis research. While lobbying for federal cannabis reform was the primary purpose of this trip, the fly-in also acted as a litmus test for federal support of state implemented cannabis markets. OCA members met with everyone from strong supporters and champions on the issue, such as Portland Congressman Blumenauer and staff, to staff members in offices of categorical cannabis antagonists (names omitted for risk of preventing future lobbying opportunities).

OCA members were well received on both fronts and, in general, offices seemed excited to talk about an issue that gets less press than healthcare reform or Russia. While most offices agreed that descheduling marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act is unlikely to happen anytime soon, offices on the front lines of cannabis reform are confident that legislation addressing issues such as safe access to banking can happen without descheduling or rescheduling.

The Takeaways:

  • The Trump administration has bigger issues to address

While not concrete, the impression received from various congressional offices is as follows: Even with news of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s letter asking Congress to remove Rohrabacher-Farr protections, the administration is too bogged down with other issues for us to see any movement against state cannabis markets in the near term.

  • Freshman Republicans see the writing on the walls

The War on Drugs is over and everyone lost. Public opinion in favor of medical and adult-use cannabis continues to grow and new studies are showing that opioid deaths are down in states with medical marijuana markets. Fresh faces (and some of the more seasoned ones too) in the GOP recognize this and seem excited at the opportunity to increase public safety, support state’s rights, and add stability to a growing industry.

  • Putting faces to the industry is important

Washington, D.C., while representative of the entire country, is not the progressive West. There are still a lot of misconceptions about the people who use, grow, process, produce, sell, and advocate for cannabis. Many offices seemed surprised to learn that industry leaders are sophisticated business people and not stereotypical “stoners”. An important step in swaying federal policy makers to push for marijuana reform will be changing the perception of some in Washington of the cannabis industry, a fight where OCA is certainly on the front line.

  • Congress is not just blowing smoke

Offices in which OCA members met understand that there are issues that state legislatures cannot address. These offices want to see public safety concerns addressed, they want to end diversions into the illegal drug trade, and they recognize the need for stability in an industry that is adding thousands of jobs to states with adult-use markets. Furthermore, they recognize that the changes OCA is lobbying for can only happen with federal support. 

Stay tuned as bipartisan congressional support for marijuana reform continues to grow. We also want to thank our thirty member participants for spending the time, money and resources to make the trip.

Remember, trips like these are only possible with your membership participation. Please visit www.orcannabisassociation.org to join!

Cocktails with Governor Kate Brown

On the evening of June 8th, 2017, the OCA hosted an informal cocktail hour for the Oregon State Governor, Kate Brown.  The event was held in the beautiful Red Shed, at Langdon Farms Golf Course in Aurora, OR.

Cocktails were followed by personal stories of building cannabis businesses in Oregon, and the roadblocks that can occur, from OCA Members Preston GreeneMatt Walstatter, Sally Alworth, and Tyson Haworth . The Governor then followed with inspiring comments and an overview of the State of the State of Cannabis from her perspective.

It was a lovely and informative evening for everyone involved. This was special OCA relationship builder and was a unique opportunity to have the Governor get to know OCA members


The OCA goes to Washington

The OCA is the leader of the Oregon Cannabis Industry. 30 of our members are going on our third trip to Washington D.C. this June 19-22 to meet with 35 different Congresspeople. Members will be speaking to elected officials about the stumbling blocks that impede the growth of the cannabis industry. Some of the topics that will be covered at the U.S.Captial are reasonable access to banking like other industries, potential interstate commerce, and 280e taxes. 

This is an exciting time in the Cannabis Industry. It is also an ever changing industry as laws and regulations are created. The OCA is committed to shaping these conversations and having a seat at the table. Please check back in a few weeks for a report and pictures from the trip. Hopefully you can join us next time!

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