The cannabis industry has flexed its muscles in 15 states where it’s legal to smoke marijuana for medical purposes. Now the industry is ready to go to work in Washington, McClatchy Newspapers report. A new trade group, the National Cannabis Industry Association, is an attempt to bring together sellers, growers, and manufacturers and to promote pot on Capitol Hill. “Our intent is to be the go-to organization in Washington for this industry,” said Aaron Smith, executive director.
For the past five years, Smith was California director of the Marijuana Policy Project. He said, “It’s pretty clear that the medical marijuana industry is becoming recognized more and more by the mainstream as a fully legitimate part of the economy.” Even though California voters last month rejected a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for all adults, Smith believes it is just a matter of time before the drug is fully legalized. Smith will have a hard time finding many marijuana advocates in Congress. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted 400-4 to back a resolution from California Republican Rep. Wally Herger that calls on authorities to get tougher with those who cultivate marijuana on federal land. Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen of Wisconsin called medical marijuana “a misnomer,” adding: “There is nothing safe about smoking. There is nothing safe about smoking an illicit product called marijuana.” The association’s first target will be a federal law that prohibits marijuana use even if states have legalized it. The law has resulted in confusion amid overlapping jurisdictions, with state authorities enforcing state laws and federal officials enforcing federal laws.