Tobacco has a lobby. Alcohol has a lobby. Now medical marijuana has its own lobbying group in Washington, D.C.
The National Cannabis Industry Association officially unveiled itself Tuesday as "the first national trade group representing the interests of the cannabis industry and its consumers."
The NCIA's founders are from California, but it represents dispensary owners in many of the 15 states that have legalized medical pot, the group's executive director, onetime Californian Aaron Smith, told the Weekly.
And, unlike at least some in the medical cannabis industry in California, which turned turned their backs on the state's failed pot-legalization measure earlier this month, the NCIA is full-on for fully legal weed.
"We absolutely supported [California's] Prop. 19 and will continue to support any measure that would stop the criminalization of marijuana consumers," Smith says. "Legalization would be an obvious benefit to the sellers."
Smith said about one-third of the organization's board members are from California. Another third is from Colorado. And the rest are from the other medical-pot states.
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The group also wants to send a message to Washington that it won't tolerate continued federal enforcement against dispensaries where medical pot is legal.
The Obama administration has ordered federal agents to stop raiding legit pot shops in places like California. But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration continues to target dispensaries, even sometimes in Southern California.
The NCIA and other pro-pot groups are opposing the nomination of Michele Leonhart to head the DEA. As acting chief, she's vowed to continue enforcing cannabis law, even in states where medical weed has been approved by voters.
"Our primary goal is to end prohibition on a federal level," Smith told us. "And a top priority is for the federal government to stop kicking in the doors of these legitimate businesses operating in compliance of state law."