Federal Lobbying Spending by Cannabis Industry Down

Despite growing momentum for cannabis reforms in Congress, the cannabis industry’s federal lobbying expenditures are down from their peak in previous years.

Full story after the jump.

Federal lobbying efforts by cannabis industry operators is down, according to a Stat News report. Curaleaf spent nearly 40% less on lobbying in Washington, D.C. in the first half of the year than it did at its peak in 2019, the report says, while Columbia Care and Pax Labs eliminated their lobbying teams entirely.  

In a statement to Stat, Aaron Smith, co-founder and CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), which lobbies lawmakers, called it a “cruel irony” that “businesses are forced to cut back on their government relations spending when in fact that advocacy [is] what’s needed in order for the industry to actually succeed.” 

The NCIA has spent $100,000 on lobbying so far this year, according to federal disclosures outlined by Stat. The group spent $285,000 on lobbying in the first six months of 2019. 

The U.S. Cannabis Council spent $150,000 on lobbying efforts last quarter and plans to spend as much, or more, a spokesman told Stat. The group has also launched a super PAC. David Culver, the group’s senior vice president of public affairs, told Stat the group wants to “be a big tent organization.”  

“Everybody realizes that if we have a singular and unified industry voice … that we’re gonna have a lot more success.” — Culver to Stat 

The American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp began lobbying in late 2019 and has also modestly increased its lobbying in recent months, spending $50,000 so far this year on lobbying; in 2022, the firm spent a total of $50,000 for an entire year of lobbying. 

Two firms focused on lobbying for cannabis reforms – the Cannabis Trade Federation and the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce – appear to have folded entirely, the report says.  

Adam Goers, the senior vice president of corporate affairs for Columbia Care, told Stat that while “there may be less company spending” on lobbying, what does get spent “is more pragmatic” and “much more focused.”

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