Cannabis at the Capitol: Marijuana industry leaders lobby Congress

FILE- In this Dec. 27, 2013 file photo, different strains of pot are displayed for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Denver. The state of Colorado released a report Monday, April 18, 2016 detailing changes in everything from pot arrests to tax collections to calls to Poison Control. The most striking statistic wasn't a change at all, but the fact that surveys indicate marijuana use by people under 18 didn't rise significantly in the years after the 2012 vote to legalize recreational pot sales. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

By Jennifer Harper – The Washington Times – Thursday, May 12, 2016

Three Democratic lawmakers will herald the start of a two-day lobbying effort by marijuana entrepreneurs on Capitol Hill.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado plus Denny Heck of Washington joined the National Cannabis Industry Association for a press conference Thursday just outside the U.S. House to talk up policy and “advocate for fair treatment of the legal cannabis industry,” according to the organization. They will spend the next two days explaining their situation to as many elected officials as possible.

The trade group is troubled that “legitimate cannabis businesses” often can’t access basic financial services. They take issue with cannabis business who must pay “double or triple the effective federal tax rates of any other industry.” They want marijuana “de-scheduled” from the Controlled Substances Act.

The cannabis entrepreneurs also appear to be intent on changing the image of the emerging industry.

The association itself has a formal code of conduct for its membership and officers them this message: “Lobby Days provide the best opportunity to show our nation’s decision-makers what a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry looks like.”

The group plans a major national expo and business summit in Oakland, California next month. Currently, 19 states the the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana. Four states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow marijuana for both recreational and medical use. Sales nationwide of legal weed are expected to top $4.5 billion this year.

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