New Lobbying Group Aims to Unite Cannabis Industry, End Federal Prohibition
If there’s one thing the cannabis industry definitely doesn’t lack, it’s lobbying groups.
And then you’ve got relative newcomers, like the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), which was founded in 2010, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), which launched in 2014).
There’s also the Cannabis Trade Federation (CTF), the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR), the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (GACC), and countless groups focused on the hemp industry.
Now you can add one more acronym to the list: USCC, short for the U.S. Cannabis Council, a new nonprofit organization that “aims to advance social equity and racial justice and end federal cannabis prohibition.”
Announced Monday, the coalition brings several North American cannabis industry stakeholders together in hopes of convincing policymakers in Washington D.C. to legalize marijuana.
While individual marijuana businesses, advocacy groups, and trade associations have historically had different legislative priorities, legalizing cannabis has always been the primary goal at the end of the day.
Their challenge, however, has been rallying behind a cohesive message on Capitol Hill, something lawmakers typically want to see from sectors seeking major reform.
In a news release, USCC interim CEO Steven Hawkins, who also serves as the executive director of the MPP, described the new group as a “unified voice advocating for the descheduling and legalization of cannabis.”
“Legalization at both the state and federal level must include provisions ensuring social equity and redress for harms caused to communities impacted by cannabis prohibition,” he said.
In addition to the MPP, founding members of the USCC include the CTF, Canopy Growth Corporation, Curaleaf, and Scotts Miracle-Gro, among many others.
Other notable marijuana companies that helped to establish the group are Acreage Holdings, Columbia Care, Cresco Labs, MedMen and Vireo Health.
However, several key players groups are missing from the USCC roster, including the NCIA, MCBA, and NORML.
And while the NCR was not named explicitly in the news release, its chairman, Charles Bachtell, is the co-founder and CEO of Cresco Labs.
Despite not having universal buy-in from every industry trade group, the USCC has nonetheless vowed to “end federal cannabis prohibition” while also “securing federal reforms that advance social equity” by tapping into the “resources, energy and expertise of its founding members.”
“Today the cannabis industry has mobilized to make our message clear — we must deschedule and legalize cannabis, and it is critical that it is done the right way,” said Christian Sederberg, a partner at cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, a founding member of USCC.
“After so many years working toward meaningful reform, it’s inspiring to see the diverse group of partners who have formed this collective voice, and together, we are hopeful that true, meaningful federal cannabis reform is within reach,” added Sederberg, who is also the group’s acting board chairman and interim CEO of the CTF.
The launch of the USCC comes just one week after three top Senate Democrats said they would pursue “comprehensive cannabis reform legislation” during the 117th session of Congress.
U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who co-chairs the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said he was excited to work alongside the USCC in his long-standing quest to legalize cannabis.
“We have a unique opportunity in the 117th Congress to advance cannabis reform, but we must remain united to create the change we know is possible,” he said via the release. “I look forward to welcoming the United States Cannabis Council to Washington, D.C. and working together toward meaningful policy change in the months and years ahead."
A list of the USCC’s founding members is included in the news release below.
Top Cannabis Businesses, Associations, and Advocacy Organizations Join Forces to Launch U.S. Cannabis Council
A Coalition of Leading Companies and Advocates, USCC Aims to Advance Social Equity and Racial Justice, and End Federal Cannabis Prohibition
WASHINGTON -- Top cannabis businesses, associations, and advocacy organizations in the United States today launched the U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC), a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization that strategically aligns and unifies its members’ collective voices to advance cannabis reform.
The largest coalition of its kind, USCC will harness the resources, energy, and expertise of its founding members to end federal cannabis prohibition by bringing together a strategic alliance of organizations, businesses, and individuals. Importantly, USCC will focus on securing federal reforms that advance social equity and promote fair, safe, and well-regulated markets nationwide as states continue legalizing cannabis at a rapid rate.
“USCC is a unified voice advocating for the descheduling and legalization of cannabis,” said USCC Interim CEO Steven Hawkins, a leader in civil and human rights who also serves as Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a founding member of USCC. “Legalization at both the state and federal level must include provisions ensuring social equity and redress for harms caused to communities impacted by cannabis prohibition.”
The alliance aims to raise ethical standards within the industry; achieve restorative justice for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by misguided state and federal cannabis policies; and create a healthy, inclusive, and well-regulated cannabis industry with social, financial, and environmental benefits shared by all.
Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. are already looking forward to working hand-in-hand with the organization.
“As founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I’ve seen firsthand that our most successful cannabis wins have been secured by a team,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. “That’s why I am glad to see this first-of-its-kind alliance. We have a unique opportunity in the 117th Congress to advance cannabis reform, but we must remain united to create the change we know is possible. I look forward to welcoming the United States Cannabis Council to Washington, D.C. and working together toward meaningful policy change in the months and years ahead."
USCC aims to become a leading resource for cannabis here in the U.S., impacting policy change on both a federal and state level.
“Today the cannabis industry has mobilized to make our message clear – we must deschedule and legalize cannabis, and it is critical that it is done the right way,” said Christian Sederberg, USCC’s Acting Board Chairman and a partner at national cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, a founding member of USCC. “After so many years working towards meaningful reform, it’s inspiring to see the diverse group of partners who have formed this collective voice, and together, we are hopeful that true, meaningful federal cannabis reform is within reach.”
The USCC’s founding members represent some of the most influential policy and business organizations in the modern cannabis industry. For every five board appointments, the USCC will reserve one additional board seat for members representing specific areas of focus, including DEI and environmental concerns.
Founding members of the U.S. Cannabis Council include standalone and multi-state businesses, associations, and advocacy organizations from throughout North America:
- Acreage Holdings
- Akerna Corp.
- American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp
- Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine
- BellRock Brands
- Buckeye Relief
- Cannabis Trade Federation
- Canopy Growth Corporation
- Columbia Care Inc.
- Cresco Labs Inc.
- Cronos Group
- DNA Genetics
- Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce
- Good Chemistry
- The Grove Cannabis Dispensary
- Headcount’s Cannabis Voter Project
- Husch Blackwell
- iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc.
- Keef Brands
- LivWell Enlightened Health
- Marijuana Policy Project
- Medicine Man
- Native Roots Cannabis Co.
- 1906 New Highs
- PAX Labs
- Raw Garden
- Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
- Urbn Leaf
- Veterans Cannabis Project
- Vicente Sederberg LLP
For more information on how to get involved with the USCC, please visit www.uscannabiscouncil.org.
The United States Cannabis Council is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. USCC members seek to harness their collective expertise in order to advance social equity, end the federal prohibition of cannabis, modernize federal and state regulations and promote high ethical standards within the industry.