The Cannabis Lobby Is a Growing Force on Capitol Hill
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The Cannabis Lobby Is a Growing Force on Capitol Hill

Industry spending is growing year-over-year, with no signs of slowing down.

November 4, 2019

In just the first nine months of 2019, the rapidly expanding cannabis lobby in Washington, D.C., outspent its 2018 business.

Last year, the industry spent $2.76 million on lobbying efforts. Through September 2019, year to date, the industry has spent $3.77 million. By year’s end, no doubt, the total will be higher, teeing up even more spending in 2020.

Top spenders in D.C. politics include: the Cannabis Trade Federation, Curaleaf, the National Cannabis Roundtable, the National Cannabis Industry Association and Parallel Brands, according to, which tracks lobby spending.

cannabis lobbying spending washington
“People think of lobbying as this nefarious sort of thing when in reality, most of the time, it’s a bunch of policy wonks who were sitting there and trying to explain esoteric components of policy and how they touch each other,” Cannabis Trade Federation CEO Neal Levine told Colorado Public Radio. “Policy is like a spiderweb, right? It touches in places that you don’t presume.” 

The most visible platform for industry lobbying efforts is the Senate’s stance toward the SAFE Banking Act, which passed out of the U.S. House in September. Convention wisdom in the industry insists that banking reform is a vital prerequisite for any broader form of legalization or states’ rights legislation in Washington. The Senate’s Republican majority poses a significant obstacle for that bill, however. The U.S. House vote fell mostly along party lines. 

Whether that bills picks up any traction in the Senate is unclear, but, like so many things on Capitol Hill, it hinges on the money behind the effort. And if the SAFE Banking Act passes this year, there’s certainly no shortage of additional legislative goals that will need the squeaky-wheel politics of lobby spending.