As a cannabis consultant, I find it important to nurture all kinds of people, passions and opportunities in the industry.
I have been fortunate to attend four iterations of Lobby Days for the cannabis industry hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association. I’m so pleased that each time, the group keeps getting bigger, our messaging keeps getting clearer and our support keeps getting stronger. As a founding member of NCIA, I have always advocated the importance of being an involved member of the industry’s trade association. This year, my goal was a little different. I wanted to show someone from the next generation of cannabis industry leaders the importance of advocating for our industry. I convinced Karson Humiston, a young, new star in the industry to attend.
My husband and I met Karson a year ago. She had just started her recruiting firm, Vangst Talent Network, after graduating from college. Imagine this – you are in your senior year of college and you go to the career counselor’s office to discuss your post-graduation plans of getting involved with the fastest growing industry in the country, and your career counselor not only says it is not a good idea, she is not even going to help you in any way. That’s what happened to Karson, but instead of being deterred, she decided to start a business to help college graduates find intern and entry-level jobs in the cannabis industry. She moved to Colorado and has done such an amazing job of placing people for all job levels, she has become one of the top recruiting firms in the state.
On our first day of lobbying, we met with staff from Congressman Ron DeSantis’ office, Congresswoman Lois Frankel’s office and Senator Marco Rubio’s office; all representatives of Florida. In our group, we were all ancillary businesses in the cannabis industry so we shared stories of having issues with banking and having to accept large cash payments from businesses without bank accounts. We also discussed issues around dealing with businesses who can’t take standard business deductions because of the limitations set by tax code 280E. Everyone that we met was engaged and asked questions and showed a true desire to find common ground to endorse.
The second day we met with staff from Congressman Don Young of Alaska, and staff from Congressman Ron Kind who also sits on the Ways and Means Committee. It was wonderful to meet with people who were already aware of the banking and tax issues. Our stories make the issues more human and personal. It gives them insight to how these same issues impact their own constituents.
At the end of our two days, Karson was a pro. She understood the importance of lobbying for the industry and how she has a voice as a small business owner. When asked if she would do it again, she responded, “this was the first of many lobby days and other lobbying efforts for myself and my company!” Mission accomplished.
As I flew home to Colorado I thought back to my first Lobby Days in 2012, when I was “shown the ropes” by industry pioneers that pre-dated my involvement. I have so much respect for these women that continue to represent the industry as leaders. A huge thank you to Becky DeKeuster in Maine and JoAnna LaForce from California. Learning and teaching – it’s the right thing to do.