Cannabis Industry Grows on Capitol Hill

Industry forms U.S. Cannabis Council to represent interests.

February 16, 2021

WASHINGTON—Disparate players from the cannabis industry have banded together to form the U.S. Cannabis Council to represent their interests in Washington, D.C., and state capitals, reports Bloomberg. At the same time, Marlboro-maker Altria Group and Corona beer producer Constellation Brands are becoming more conspicuous in advocating for their own marijuana investments.

Announced last week, the new lobbying group brings together a diverse group, including multistate operators like Canopy Growth Corp. and Curaleaf Holdings Inc., a trade association for hemp and special interest groups supporting veterans and racial minorities. Law firms Husch Blackwell and Vicente Sederberg are founding members, along with Pax Labs, the company that separated from JUUL Labs and now specializes in cannabis vaporizers.

“This is an important milestone for the industry,” said David Klein, CEO, Canopy Growth. “The overwhelming feedback we heard in our conversations with elected officials and regulatory bodies is how disjointed and fragmented the industry currently is.”

Altria, which already has a 45% stake in cannabis company Cronos Labs, hired Elizabeth Rafferty, director of government relations for the law firm Williams Mullen, to lobby on issues related to “the responsible and equitable regulation of cannabis sales in Virginia,” according to Virginia records. This is the first state in which the company is registered to lobby on cannabis.

Altria “supports the federal legalization of cannabis under an appropriate regulatory framework,” spokesman George Parman said. “As a stakeholder in this industry, we intend to work with policy makers and regulators to support a transparent, responsible and equitable operating environment for the sale of cannabis.”