Advocation grows for both recreational and medical cannabis dispensary rights. A new nonprofit political group, the New Federalism Fund (or NFF), has united several cannabis industry companies, including local Colorado retailers and international corporations alike. The organization is backed by powerhouse companies like Scotts Company LLC (a Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. subsidiary), as well as startup companies and growing companies like Colorado-based LivWell Enlightened Health, a multi-store cannabis retailer. That’s good news for cannabiz, and it speaks to the political activism that surrounds the cannabis industry. Let’s take a deeper look at the New Federalism Fund and its objective, the backers of the NFF, and an interview of LivWell’s Neal Levine (an NFF activist and the company’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs).
The Intent of the NFF
The NFF, on their website, lists their priorities as follows: “The New Federalism Fund is committed to creating a legal framework for cannabis that promotes public safety, local economic development, and our federalist system. It is the constitutional right of states to regulate legal goods and services produced, distributed, and retailed within their borders.” In addition, they state that “The NFF will work with officials at the federal level to ensure that lawmakers understand the benefits of the legal, locally regulated cannabis industry […] [and the organization] supports a fair and equal tax system for the legal cannabis industry.” This nonprofit organization embodies the very definition of cannabis right activism. Through petitions and initiatives, the NFF strives to protect state cannabis rights, protecting the unique laws within various states throughout the United States.
With such a positive, active platform, it’s no wonder that the NFF has seen support from a litany of companies. Here are a few companies that top the list (as provided by this Marijuana Business Daily article)
Scotts Company LLC
Scotts backs the NFF. As a giant in the horticulture industry, it makes sense that Scotts wants cannabis law under their proverbial green thumb. Scotts has shown active pursuit of cannabis-related markets; they currently produce hydroponics products as well as products that accelerate plant growth. As Alicia Wallace points out in her article for the Cannabist, Scotts’ CEO Jim Hagedorn frankly notes that the “hydroponics [industry] simply makes good business sense.” It’s no wonder why this green giant is open and active in support of cannabis rights.
Colorado retailers, including Medicine Man, Native Roots, and (as we mentioned) LivWell Enlightened Health, have united to back the NFF. All of these independent dispensaries have united in the name of a cause—the cause which the NFF embodies. Colorado support is sure to grow.
Dixie Brands, a cannabis infusing corporation, has obvious interest in maintaining cannabis law legitimacy. Since 2010, Dixie has been infusing products with THC. They claim to be a “trusted source for innovative, safe, effective and delicious cannabis products.” And since they’re on the forefront of innovation in cannabis production, it’s no wonder that they’re putting forth resources to back the NFF.
Privateer Holdings is a Seattle-based cannabis-industry investment firm. On their site, Privateer Holdings boldly states that “The end of cannabis prohibition is inevitable.” So, through investing, corporate acquisition, and business incubation, Privateer Holdings supports the cannabis economy. Once again, it’s no wonder that Privateer Holdings has interest in protecting specific states’ cannabis rights.
Tryke Companies has carved out their place in the medical marijuana field. Based in Arizona and Nevada, Tryke strives to improve health through marijuana. But their philanthropy doesn’t stop there—according to their site, Tryke gives back by “strengthening and improving the community by employing its workers at a living wage, providing substantial tax revenue through sales and excise taxes, and participating in a variety of charitable events and programs.” It’s logical that Tryke Companies has partnered with the NFF.
An Interview With LivWell’s Neal Levine
In an article published late last year, Marijuana Politics interviewed LivWell Enlightened Health’s Senior V.P. of Government Affairs, Neal Levine. Levine describes his position, his past, and his politics. Levine is an obvious expert on cannabis regulation. Describing his experience, Levine states, “I’ve had the good fortune to have worked on cannabis policy reform in more than 20 states over the course of almost 14 years.” In Levine’s eyes, the current state of affairs for cannabis industry business is far from ideal—“Almost all businesses struggling in the legal and compliant cannabis industry today are struggling because of the cost of complying with state and local regulations and our effective federal tax burden of 80% or more.” He calls for action against overly constricting regulations and unbearable taxes. As an activist and member of the NFF, it’s obvious that Levine has close ties to cannabis industry and politics. He took time to point out a major obstacle for cannabis industry advocates: “I strongly believe that we need to collectively focus our energy and resources on ending the scourge of IRS 280E enforcement against our industry.” IRS Code § 280E outlaws federal tax deductions and credits awarded to “illegal” cannabis industry businesses, thus hindering the cannabis economy nationwide, even in states where recreational cannabis is legal on the local level. This makes breaking into the cannabis industry even more difficult for new startups. Levine leaves us with this advice:
“We need to all work together to get the industry to the point where we are in position to fully fund the movement, and then we can all collectively end cannabis prohibition once and for all.”
That’s an important message for cannabis advocates. While we may have won the right to grow, transport, and sell cannabis, Americans still have a long way to go to completely reverse marijuana prohibition. That’s a powerful message from Levine, and it’s the very message that the New Federalism Fund (and its activists) back.
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