Cannabis Trade Federation CEO Neal Levine has a long history in cannabis activism and the industry as his work has taken him from winning campaigns with the Marijuana Policy Project to helping build LivWell in Colorado. Today, Levine is helping lead the industry’s efforts to improve federal cannabis laws from banking to the tax code to ultimately ending prohibition altogether. Ahead of his appearance at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco this February 7th-8th, Neal spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle’s Smell the Truth to discuss lobbying in the Trump era and other burning issues:
Smell the Truth: Does the current Trump presidency pose any sort of setback in working to ban federal cannabis prohibition?
Neal Levine: The issue is coming to a head at the federal level through a combination of more and more states opting out of prohibition, a super-majority of support in nationwide and local polls for cannabis legalization, cannabis companies joining the mainstream business communities in the states and communities in which they operate (if you get to know us, we’re not all that scary a bunch), a growing number of elected officials who are looking to a federalist solution to end the conflict between federal and state cannabis law regardless of how they feel about legalization personally, and a growing number of federal elected officials who are looking to right the wrongs of how the war on drugs has disproportionately impacted communities and people of color.
StT: How influential are cannabis lobbyists on federal policy now that more states are considering legalization?
Levine: Our federal lobby has been extremely effective and influential, and the Cannabis Trade Federation just announced that we have assembled the largest and most diverse federal lobbying team in the history of cannabis. We are also looking to work in cooperation and collaboration with everyone else lobbying for cannabis policy reform on Capitol Hill, and we are optimistic that seismic and permanent federal cannabis policy change is right around the corner, most likely with the passage of the STATES Act.
Levine’s entire interview with Smell the Truth is certainly worth reading and I look forward to discussing the work that the Cannabis Trade Federation and other groups are doing in Washington, D.C. at the upcoming ICBC in San Francisco. The legalization movement has never been stronger and decades of work seem poised to pay off as support for ending prohibition has reached majority support across the political divide. There is still a ton of work to accomplish, but the future of the cannabis community and industry is bright as we make progress step by step, state by state, policymaker by policymaker.
Don’t miss learning the latest about state, federal, and international cannabis policy at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco this February 7th-8th. Get your tickets before prices go up and the event is sold out. After San Francisco, the ICBC will be heading to Barcelona, Berlin, Zurich, and Vancouver.