By Josh Kasoff Photo of Chamber Board of Directors By Douglas Benjamin Candido All the cannabis-centric changes and reforms that have been implemented in Nevada since 2018 are legislative proof that just because a state legalizes cannabis recreationally, the battle for widespread cannabis reform within that state is […]
By Josh Kasoff Photo of Chamber Board of Directors By Douglas Benjamin Candido
All the cannabis-centric changes and reforms that have been implemented in Nevada since 2018 are legislative proof that just because a state legalizes cannabis recreationally, the battle for widespread cannabis reform within that state is far from over. Large-scale expungements never happened and criminal record sealing opportunities for previous cannabis “offenders” didn’t fully come into existence until the summer of 2020. Meanwhile, social equity measures weren’t tangibly included in any Nevada legislation until Assembly Bill 341 passed by a majority in the Legislature in 2021. These major changes all occurred years after Question 2 passed in 2016; proving that the battle for legalization is just the first of the many that advocates and communities will have to fight for in the Legislature if truly reformative cannabis policies are to be implemented.
As part of this ongoing fight, the Chamber of Cannabis will be organizing a lobbying day on April 10th for the 2023 Nevada Legislative Session in Carson City. After a tumultuous year for Nevada’s industry, where an overall shrinkage in retail sales, layoffs across bigger and smaller operators alike were among the lowlights of a year characterized by market stagnation. Given the current landscape of the market, the passionate leaders, advocates, and professionals employed by the industry could certainly use the lobbying and activism efforts; a statement that Chamber of Cannabis President Tina Ulman would agree with.
“The last year for the industry has been tough,” said Ulman. “We’ve seen an overall decline in sales, an increase in people losing their jobs and we’ve seen a reduction in capital being invested in the market. The CCB unfortunately has not implemented any of the revisions and solutions that the Chamber and other market leaders have suggested regarding regulations that would significantly improve commerce and reduce cost for many operators. It’s very disappointing.”
The cumbersome regulations Ulman is referring to span everything from cultivation taxes to newly implemented regulations that have blind-sided operators, to onerous and potentially wasteful packaging regulations and restrictions. This lack of change in Nevada cannabis regulations remains despite the Chamber delivering over 30 public comments and more concerns about how these regulations were problematic and both cost and time-consuming.
Even with the hardships that Nevada’s cannabis industry is currently facing during this period of economic downturn in America, there are milestones to celebrate. After a years’ long battle for lounges and many more months of regulatory planning, cannabis consumption lounges will finally be a reality in Nevada. Furthermore, cannabis DWI (driving while intoxicated) laws in regards to remaining metabolites in your system have changed statewide. This legislation means that drivers won’t get a DWI on their record just because there is cannabis in their system, unless there is a loss of life or extensive property damage in a car accident.
Despite these victories, an industry still very much in its infancy stage like the Nevada cannabis industry could always use further advocacy and lobbying and having a supportive relationship with the state Legislature doesn’t hurt, either. Because of this, the dedicated army of cannabis professionals and advocates with the Chamber of Cannabis will be venturing up to our state capital on April 10th to continue to advocate for legislative support behind the Nevada cannabis industry and community.
“Since we only have the ability to change policy every two years when the Nevada Legislature meets, we would really like to see more collaboration from our regulatory body. We want to work with them to address concerns in the market and implement sustainable and viable solutions. That was one of the main focuses of the Chamber in 2022 and that will be one of the main focuses in 2023 along with passing two additional pieces of legislation regarding justice and commerce.”
As for what those strategic and legislative focuses are for 2023, they include measures that stand to greatly impact the Nevada cannabis industry and its estimated 11 to 14,000 employees. Among the measures that the Chamber of Cannabis will be lobbying for both on April 10 as well as throughout 2023, is a measure that doubles the daily purchase limit from one ounce of flower to two and 3.5g of concentrate to 7g.
“The reason we feel that these initiatives are so important is because they will help every entity in the supply chain. From cultivators to producers, retailers and down to store team members who are likely getting judged on sales and probably not receiving bonuses. It will not only make us more competitive with other states, this measure will also help mitigate the unlicensed market by being able to provide people with the option to buy more in one transaction. We do not support any additional enforcement on the unlicensed market, or any other war on drug tactic. We need to have high quality affordable cannabis that people are able to purchase more of in one transaction.”
The second measure that the Chamber will be lobbying for is a measure that’s long overdue for Nevada cannabis, especially because Nevada’s Legislature so strongly emphasized social equity and established a mandate in the language of 2021’s Assembly Bill 341 for the CCB and the industry to right the many wrongs caused by Nevada’s previous horribly draconian cannabis policies that are now mostly repealed.
“The second measure the Chamber will be focusing on is to allow ex-offenders to work in the cannabis industry.” Ulman explained. “Unfortunately when Question 2 was passed, there was no justice within the bill to help those affected by the failed War on Drugs. If you have served your sentence you should get the opportunity to be a contributing member of the community and reenter the workforce. Let the business decide if they want to hire them, not the government.”
“The Chamber focuses on commerce, justice and the community and we know that if these two bills pass they will progressively affect all our pillars.”
As for the lobbying and advocacy day on April 10th itself, the day’s main objectives will be meeting with Nevada legislators to inform them of why Nevada cannabis industry professionals believe these measures would be beneficial for the industry. While Nevada isn’t a state that excludes citizen-created ballot measures like Texas, bills like SB33 need to be voted upon by the Legislature, so the importance of lobbying days such as the upcoming April 10th event can’t be understated.
“We know that policy makers aren’t experts in cannabis, and we don’t expect them to be. We do however expect them to listen to their constituents and allow us to provide them with factual information that will support the passing of SB33 and help save a struggling industry and restore justice.”
As for 2023, the year that will likely see the opening of consumption lounges across Nevada and turn the state into a mecca of Mary Jane, the Chamber of Cannabis will continue their bi-monthly meetings in both Las Vegas and Reno as well as hosting notable and influential individuals in Nevada cannabis.
“Along with getting two significant measures passed, we plan on continuing to connect our community and industry. Our bi-monthly meetings allow chamber members and cannabis professionals the opportunity to create and build new partnerships and be a catalyst for change. Our next Vegas meeting is 2/9 at 6:30pm and Reno is 2/23 at 6:30pm. We post all updates on our website thechamberofcannabis.org and IG @Chamberofcannabis.”
“One of the ethos of the Chamber is ‘enjoy the ride.’ Sometimes, working in the industry is stressful and over-regulated. But at the same time, we know we are making history and we are in a privileged space…we don’t take that for granted.”
The Chamber of Cannabis also has six different committees that members can serve on. Those committees are: Commerce, Political Action, Events, Community Impact, Merchandise, and Public Relations and Influence.
“We welcome professionals and activists to get involved and be the change they want to see.”
Ulman stressed that any and all types of cannabis activists and industry professionals regardless of their profession or rank in the Nevada cannabis industry are invited to lobby in Carson City on April 10th. As the potential outcome of these two bills could be absolutely monumental for industry professionals and activists alike, the strength in numbers of advocates in Carson City meeting with their representatives can’t be understated.
“If you’d like to talk to your representative about the state of the industry and how we can gain their support, we need you!”