The cannabis industry has seen a significant decrease in federal lobbying spending over the past year, according to a new report from STAT News.
The STAT News report details how major players such as Curaleaf, Columbia Care, and Pax Labs are all reducing their lobbying budgets or have even eliminated their teams entirely.
Smaller companies are feeling the pinch even harder as membership in the National Cannabis Industry Association has been cut in half, forcing the organization to lay off staff and reduce its lobbying efforts.
The report outlines several key findings as to why this decrease is occurring. The most notable is that cannabis companies, both large and small, are facing capital constraints due to the current cannabis economic downturn.
This has forced them to make difficult decisions about how best to allocate their limited resources; lobbying for federal action has become a secondary priority.
In addition, the report suggests that there may be an increased focus on more targeted lobbying strategies, which could prove to be effective in the long term.
It is clear that cannabis companies are having to make difficult decisions about how best to spend their money, and this could have lasting consequences for the industry in terms of its ability to shape legislation at the federal level.
Lobbying Efforts by Major Cannabis Industry Operators
Curaleaf, one of the largest cannabis companies in the U.S., has seen a significant decrease in lobbying spending compared to its peak in 2019.
According to Stat News, Curaleaf spent nearly 40% less on federal lobbying during the first half of 2023 than in 2019. Columbia Care and Pax Labs, on the other hand, have eliminated their lobbying teams entirely.
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) has also been significantly impacted by decreased membership. According to Stat, NCIA spent $100,000 on lobbying efforts during the first six months of 2023, which is a steep decline from its total of $285,000 during the first half of 2019.
The U.S. Cannabis Council is one group that has continued to invest in federal lobbying efforts despite the decreased spending across the industry. The Council spent $150,000 on lobbying efforts last quarter and plans to spend as much or more in the coming months.
The American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH) has also modestly increased its lobbying efforts since its launch late last year, spending $50,000 so far this year on lobbying efforts.
On the other hand, two industry-focused lobbying groups – the Cannabis Trade Federation and the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce – appear to have folded entirely, according to the report.
Adam Goers, the senior vice president of corporate affairs for Columbia Care, told STAT that while “there may be less company spending” on lobbying, what does get spent “is more pragmatic” and “much more focused.”
This suggests that cannabis companies are focusing their resources on creating targeted strategies that can significantly impact policy initiatives.
The Impact of Reduced Lobbying
The decreased lobbying efforts by major players in the cannabis industry are having a particularly negative effect on smaller operators. With the resources to lobby for their needs, these smaller companies are able to stay competitive and have little influence on federal policy-making.
This could lead to an even more consolidated cannabis industry in the coming years as larger players benefit from greater access to capital and other resources while their smaller competitors suffer.
Despite this challenging reality, some optimism-targeted lobbying strategies can be effective. Companies like Curaleaf have increased their focus on engaging lawmakers and opinion leaders in well-defined local markets, allowing them to hone their message and amplify it more effectively.
This localized approach could prove to be a successful strategy for cannabis companies as they attempt to make progress in the face of limited resources.
At the same time, larger entities such as the U.S. Cannabis Council are continuing to invest heavily in federal lobbying efforts. The hope is that their aggressive approach can pay off in terms of getting meaningful legislation passed at the national level and ensuring that the industry’s voice is heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill.
Overall, it is clear that the cannabis industry is facing a difficult period of decreased spending on federal lobbying efforts. However, with more targeted strategies, and continued investment from large players like the U.S. Cannabis Council, there may still be hope for progress in shaping federal policy in the near future.
The report provides valuable insight into the current state of federal lobbying efforts in the cannabis industry. It is clear that reduced spending on lobbying has had a negative effect on both large and small companies, as well as lobbying organizations.
Additionally, there appears to be an increased focus on more targeted strategies, such as localized efforts by individual companies, which could be effective in the long run.
These findings have important implications for cannabis industry operators moving forward. Companies should consider their own resources when deciding how to allocate funds for lobbying and other initiatives. In particular, targeted strategies may be more beneficial than blanket efforts as they can help companies maximize their influence.
At the same time, many questions remain about the future of lobbying efforts in the cannabis industry.
For example, what impact will reduced spending have on policy-making at the federal level? How can small and medium-sized businesses establish a voice in this space without access to capital?
Ultimately, only time will tell how these decisions will shape the industry’s ability to influence legislation in the years to come.
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