Roger Tilton’s Clarion Call To New Hampshire: “Let’s Be Tenth!”

By Roger Tilton

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Four years ago, I ran for state senate in the “First in the Nation Primary” state of New Hampshire on the theme: “Let’s be ‘Third in the Nation’ to legalize adult-use cannabis.” I lost. And so did New Hampshire. Since that election, every jurisdiction neighboring New Hampshire (save the Atlantic Ocean) has legalized adult-use cannabis: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Canada.

My slogan as I seek election again this cycle: “Let’s be tenth!” Not really. New Hampshire’s legislative branch, called the General Court, consists of a 400-member House of Representatives and 24 Senators. All 424 of them get paid $200 per biennium, or a hundred bucks a year. Who can afford to run for office in New Hampshire? Certainly not the working class: maybe, retired people? Wealthy people? People who control their own schedule? And what do those three groups have in common? (Other than they’re from the Greatest Generation, the oldest demographic group still alive, and those who still vehemently, and overwhelmingly, have missed the truth about cannabis.)

Roger Tilton at MJBA

I’ll let you ponder that question for a moment. And combine your answer with the silliest political gambit I’ve come across: a “pledge.” A pledge that started just after the midpoint of the last century; a pledge to not propose, support or vote for any additional taxes. This silly pledge dates back to the Eisenhower Administration, according to NHPR, and according to figures from usgovernmentspending.com, the New Hampshire state budget reached $169 million in fiscal year 1957. Today the NH state budget is nearly $6 billion a year. Progress and time necessitate new ways to collect revenue and provide services. Period.

Now, back to the pledge: guess what it leads to? We know, we’ve seen it now for decades: bad government, and the passing of responsibility for funding government to local jurisdictions in hundreds of small New Hampshire towns—like the one where I live. Property taxes have doubled in just the past few years. New Hampshire now trails only New Jersey in highest property taxes in the country. What hasn’t doubled in New Hampshire recently? Income. Some employers still get away with paying workers—and I use the term loosely, more like indentured servants—$7.25 an hour! Because that’s the federal minimum, and you know, in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, we don’t have laws requiring a minimum wage. And that means if you’re making $7.25 an hour, your employer would pay you less—if he or she could. Think about that: if employers in New Hampshire could pay you what the state pays its legislators, they would.

So local property taxes go up and services get gutted, while new revenue sources aren’t considered. What kind of government ‘Of the people, By the people, For the people’ is that? Screwed. I take some solace that the state of New Hampshire is not just out-of-touch on cannabis, the state of New Hampshire is out-of-touch on so much more. Which makes the motto seem more like ‘Live Free Of State Government Or Die (or Just Go Away)’.

For work, I act as an agent for legal cannabis companies seeking investor dollars. In that role, I’ve talked with 646 (and counting) legal cannabis companies and personally visited 94 of those in five different states. None of these companies is in New Hampshire, because our elderly, too-well-off legislature is stuck in Reefer Madness.

Last month I attended the National Cannabis Industry Association Business Summit and Expo in San Jose, which attracted +7,000 people and featured exhibits from nearly 500 legal cannabis companies. Now I’ve heard of the so-called Northeast or New England snobbery, but c’mon: Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts have seen the future, and it is legal cannabis.

Four years ago, I told voters in New Hampshire that we could take a leadership position in the legal cannabis industry. Yet our Governors, then Democrats, pooh-poohed the idea. Why? Heads in the sand and the inability to reason, to see trends, to read, to educate themselves. It’s too easy, as one candidate for County Prosecutor said, “It’s a (federal) schedule one narcotic.” Oh yeah? Well, that’s as antiquated an argument as is “Reefer Madness,” or the faux ‘War on Drugs.’

As I walked the exhibition floor in San Jose and talked with more than a hundred of those exhibitors, I felt sad for New Hampshire: so old and out of touch. Yet hopeful too, that a youngster like me (at 58!) can lead with passion on this issue and others—and convince New Hampshire voters to take part: Vote! Vote and you can have liberal policies that actually work and help people, and don’t tax those who can least afford it. In this divisive political climate, I urge you to stand with me! From the rooftops shout: liberal policies work! Liberal politics work! Legalized cannabis works! And on that last point, check out the success stories in Washington and Colorado: two states with five full years of adult-use cannabis legalization. Look at Massachusetts, retail adult-use stores slowly, and legally, coming on line. Look at California, where I was last month with 7,500 other business people making connections, signing contracts, and growing the industry.

I’m running this year to make New Hampshire tenth, or with the goings on in the legislatures in Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland, and with voters in Michigan: maybe fourteenth. I’m also running to implore voters born after Nixon resigned to get involved, learn the issues in your area, and vote both smart, and responsibly. Vote! (Oh, and please: send a few bucks, help me win: www.secure.actblue.com/donate/tilton2018)


Roger Tilton worked for major Wall Street wirehouses and a boutique broker-dealer for 28 years; then on 4/20 2016, he founded Seattle-based Access Worldgroup LLC., where he has confidentially combined investors with investments in the legal cannabis industry. Check him out at www.acwg.co or www.accessRoger.com

ProMAXGrow Names Christie Lunsford Chief Operating Officer

NEW YORK: Pro MAX Grow has announced the hiring of Christie Lunsford as its new Chief Operating Officer, reporting directly to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gasman. Mrs. Lunsford will drive Pro MAX Grow’s rapid national growth through managing operations, developing entrepreneurial relationships and building infrastructure around the company’s specialized horticultural LED lighting technologies.

“We are thrilled to welcome Christie Lunsford to the Pro MAX Grow family,” said CEO Jeff Gasman. “As majority support for cannabis legalization fuels a national policy shift and our company continues to experience rapid growth, this is a great time to bring Christie on board. Her unique blend of skills and cannabis industry experience will be a great asset toward our development of innovative horticultural lighting technologies.”

Christie Lunsford brings a track record of more than 10 years in cultivation, manufacturing and medical cannabis advocacy to Pro MAX Grow. Over the past decade she has held senior level positions from notable companies such as Dixie Brands and the National Cannabis Industry Association. Most recently Christie founded Endocannabinoidology, a consulting firm providing cannabis science, technology and education management to the cannabis industry. Additionally, she was voted Cannabis Woman of the Year at the 2015 Cannabis Business Awards.

“I am excited to join Pro MAX Grow, a dynamic company with the overall goals of promoting sustainability within the cannabis industry and assisting state legal cultivators in producing energy sufficient, high-yield grows,” said Christie Lunsford. “I look forward to spreading the word about energy consumption stewardship as well as the unique ability cultivators have to impact the outcome of carbon footprint in the world’s fastest growing industry.”

Trade Show Growing Pains And Headaches Continue To Mount

COLORADO:  Earlier this year, I wrote a piece called Trade Show Mania that outlined the relative inefficiency of, as an ancillary business provider, solely relying on event marketing to reach your target buying audience to attain adequate reach and frequency.

After attending 4 of the last 5 major events positioning themselves as business-to-business events, it is really becoming a challenge to select the right cannabis trade show to get maximum bang for your marketing buck.

The four (4) events that I attended included:

  1. Arcview Investor Pitch Forum, Hilton Mark Center, Alexandria, VA (Washington, D.C.);
  2. Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, Chicago Hilton, Chicago IL;
  3. ICACannabis World Congress & Business Expo, Javits Center, New York, NY; and,
  4. NCIA Cannabis Business Expo & Summit, Denver Convention Center, CO.

I didn’t attend CannaCon in Denver (reports I received were not positive from an attendee perspective) and do not plan on attending the Indo Trade Expo and Conference in Denver, which has an entry fee of $30 a person, a good indication that its primary focus is on consumers.

Rand Paul To Raise Money With Marijuana Industry In Denver

COLORADO: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s trip to Colorado this week includes a first for a presidential candidate: a fundraiser with the marijuana industry.

The Republican is raising money Tuesday at the Cannabis Business Summit in Denver in what an industry trade group is billing as a history making event. “Never before has a major-party presidential candidate held a reception at a cannabis industry event, and NCIA is proud to host Senator Paul,” the National Cannabis Industry Association said in an email promoting the event, which was firstreported by Yahoo News.

The minimum donation to attend the Tuesday event is $2,700, according to organizers.

Taylor West, the group’s deputy director, said the private “VIP reception” is designed to let marijuana insiders hear from Paul, who supports legislation to legalize medical marijuana and give the pot industry access to banking.

NCIA Lobby Days 2015 Recap

by Bethany Moore, NCIA Development Officer

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: While the cannabis industry and movement has grown at a phenomenal rate this last year, the body that governs our federal laws is notorious for moving at a glacial pace. Between the House of Representatives and the Senate, the future of our country is determined by the votes of more than 500 individuals representing the wishes of their constituents. This is why every year, the National Cannabis Industry Association descends upon Capitol Hill with dozens of our members to meet with these offices to explain the unfair burdens we’re facing, and how we’d like them to fix them.

 NCIA Lobby Days

The contingent of NCIA members participating in the cannabis industry’s Annual Lobby Days grows bigger and bigger each year. This year, NCIA hosted an educational Policy Symposium to kick off the Lobby Days. NCIA director of government relations, Michael Correia, provided training and insider tips for effective lobbying and navigating the House and Senate offices.

 DSC_7371print-1

The crowd lit up with smiles when Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton representing the District of Columbia entered the room, and spoke to us about her continued support for our issues, and the great need for the work we are doing to change marijuana laws. Attendees also enjoyed a fireside chat between Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, where they dug deep into the many layers of taxation policy and messaging cannabis industry issues on Capitol Hill.

Around 80 NCIA members gathered into small pre-organized groups, armed with folders containing talking points and one-pagers on our issues, and a whole lot of enthusiasm. Members split off and navigated around the Senate and House buildings, headed to meetings with Congressional offices and their staffers to describe the challenges they face due to the country’s outdated federal laws first hand.

DSC_7434web 

John Davis, owner of Northwest Patient Resource Center in Seattle, and vice-chair of NCIA’s board of directors, attended Lobby Days for his third consecutive year. “I really appreciated being able to talk to people that are on the front lines along with my business on the 280E tax provision. I am already knowledgeable on the subject but the NCIA Policy Symposium did not disappoint on the details.”

Also from Washington state, Eden Labs owner AC Braddock joined us for her third year of lobbying with NCIA. “In two days we got into over 100 offices and the difference in reception from last year was significant. Legislators were interested in what we had to say, our opinions on different legislation initiatives, and how 280E and banking restrictions were genuinely hindering legal businesses.” said Braddock. “This work has restored my faith in our government processes. It is truly empowering to be heard and sought after as a source of advice.”

On the second day, NCIA kicked off the formal lobbying with a press conference in front of the Capitol. We were joined by several of our industry-friendly allies in Congress. Several pieces of legislation were introduced in the weeks surrounding the Lobby Days event, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015,” which effectively gets the Federal government out of the business of the states, thus allowing each state to determine its own destiny with regard to a regulated cannabis industry. During the NCIA press conference in D.C., Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) re-introduced “The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015” (H.R. 2076), which resolves the banking crisis facing cannabis businesses. This bill would provide a safe haven for banks to offer services to cannabis-related businesses without fear of risk of breaking money laundering laws.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also introduced “The Small Business Tax Equity Act” (H.R. 1855 andS. 987) in both the House and Senate. The companion legislation would create an exception to Section 280E allowing state-compliant cannabis businesses to take normal business expense deductions like any other legal business. Rep. Blumenauer has introduced a similar bill in the House before, but this is the first time such legislation has been proposed in the Senate.

Even earlier this year in February, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced a comprehensive solution that would address the banking crisis, the 280E fiasco, and other problematic federal cannabis policies. The “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act” (H.R. 1013) would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act altogether, and allow states to set and enforce their own marijuana policies without federal interference, thus giving each state the freedom to choose its own approach to cannabis, and also removing the many unintended consequences of the current conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

These bills, though introduced in their respective bodies of government, await being debated and passed through their initial committees before moving to the floor for a full vote.

“While full legalization may not happen for a while, the industry should not have punitive rules in states where is it legal,” noted Braddock. “It is up to our legislators to make the laws viable and effective, and it is up to us to help them understand what that looks like. That is why it is so important to get in front of them.”

The meetings were phenomenal. Starting the dialog with your elected officials opens up a relationship with them and more importantly their legislative aids. My contact list has become quite impressive since I joined NCIA.” said Davis. “This is a big part of why my organization is active in NCIA. Change is needed at the federal level as well as in state and localities. This is our chance to be effective in advancing the changes that are needed to make our industry work.”

National Cannabis Industry Association, a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade organization, would not be able to accomplish this work were it not for the active dedication, passion, and professionalism of its membership. With nearly 900 member businesses across the country, approximately 10% of our membership was represented in Washington D.C. this year, visiting more than half of the 535 total Congressional offices. Our goal next year? Visit with all 535…

 

Pot Lobby Turns Its Back On ‘Cheech & Chong’

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The marijuana lobby is tired of the “Cheech & Chong” stoner jokes and wants to be taken seriously in Congress.

That’s why the National Cannabis Industry Association dropped actor and marijuana activist Tommy Chong from its Capitol Hill lobbying push slated for the end of April. According to an internal email obtained by POLITICO, the cannabis industry wants to move past the stoner stereotypes embodied by Chong as it tries to remake itself as a serious and respectable segment of the economy.

In a Monday email sent to Chong’s representatives and allies, NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith said that after deliberations and feedback from “allied members of Congress,” the group decided Chong is not the best representative in stodgy Washington, particularly when it comes to lobbying right-of-center lawmakers.

“Having Tommy out in DC for the NCIA Lobby Days will detract from the overall message we aim for with the event, which is that cannabis business people are regular professionals and relatable to the generally conservative members of Congress we are looking to appeal to,” Smith wrote. “We are here to break ‘stoner’ stereotypes rather than reinforce them.”

 

 

Cannabis Business Summit Takes Debate Over Pot Edibles Safety Seriously

COLORADO:  Between the hotel room antics of Maureen Dowd and a tragic pot-related tourist death and a fatal earlier this year, marijuana’s national image has taken some heavy hits recently. All of those incidents involved edibles — and like members of any industry, marijuana salespeople (medical and adult-use alike) are concerned about the effect this could have on the potential future viability of their businesses.

But unlike other industries, the marijuana businesspeople in Colorado are hyper-aware that their fortunes could turn on a legal or political dime at any moment. And judging from some of the new products and in-depth discussion at the ongoing Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center, some thoughtful and serious steps are being taken to mitigate the damage done to pot’s reputation.

During a morning panel about successes and challenges here and in Washington, Andrew Freedman, the director of marijuana coordination for Governor John Hickenlooper‘s office, noted that an edibles task force (and a solution to the banking issues that dispensaries face) are priorities for his office. And in a question-and-answer session after the discussion, more than one authority on stage acknowledged that if the nationwide trend toward marijuana legalization can be reversed at this point, the turning point could hinge on edibles. After all, on top of being associated with such high-profile incidents as Dowd’s edible nightmare and two deaths, they’re also perceived to be inherently appealing to children.

Cannabis Industry Kicks Off Business Summit

COLORADO: The tagline for this week’s Cannabis Business Summit in Denver is, “Where Commerce Meets a Revolution.”

And in speaking with some of the several hundred people in attendance at the two-day event, billed as the marijuana industry‘s first big business conference, there was a sense of mission that isn’t usually found at most trade fairs.

Keynote speakers received applause when they talked about being in a state where cannabis is legal both for medical and recreational use and the importance of running businesses that their industry can be proud of.

“This industry is being born, you can’t stop it,” said John Davis, an industry activist and CEO of the Northwest Patient Resource Center in Seattle.

Big Pot Rising: The Marijuana Industry’s First Full-Time Lobbyist Makes Rounds on Capitol Hill

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: It took Michael Correia more than a week after getting his new job to tell his parents he was a marijuana lobbyist.

“I just got a job lobbying for a small-business trade association that focuses on taxes and banking issues,” he told them four months ago after being hired by the National Cannabis Industry Association.

He wasn’t lying, but for a guy who had been working for Republicans and conservative organizations for the better part of 16 years, telling his mom and dad about representing Big Pot wasn’t exactly high on his list. It wasn’t the first time he neglected to tell his parents about marijuana in his life. He smoked it about a dozen times as a teenager before deciding that all it did was make him hungry and tired.

Marijuana Industry Delegation’s Pitch On Legalized Pot: It’s Just Good Business

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The delegation from the National Cannabis Industry Association made a point of dressing well for its day on Capitol Hill, sporting mostly dark suits, lots of ties and plenty of the group’s signature lapel pins, which feature a sun rising over vibrant fields of marijuana.

Marijuana advocates have come to lobby Washington before, often to argue for more lenient treatment under federal law. But on Thursday, buoyed by a flurry of state decisions that have expanded the legal use of marijuana, the cannabis crowd came less as social activists than as entrepreneurs, asking Congress to remove some of the obstacles that stand in the way of their fledgling businesses.

They met with staff members to ask for changes to the tax code, which prohibits the businesses from taking standard deductions for expenses. And they huddled in congressional offices to make the case for other changes that would encourage banks to work with legal cannabis businesses.