WASHINGTON, D.C. — Legalized cannabis is finding growing support at the state level. For example, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a series of bills on the issue — including legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana for those over 21 years old — in February. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled he is open to a similar move in New York.
As state and local officials continue to take up the possibility, a new group is preparing to address the issue at the federal level.
On March 11, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation launched to advance comprehensive policy solutions to guide cannabis legalization and regulation at the federal level. The group brings together stakeholders representing global, highly regulated businesses and experts on issues like patient access, public safety, criminal justice reform, youth use prevention, and access to capital.
"Today, more than 100 million Americans have access to regulated adult-use cannabis, but that state-by-state patchwork approach exists absent a federal framework that is guided by science, data, and consistent standards that exist for all other adult-use products," said Andrew Freedman, executive director of the coalition.
"The federal government has a unique role in cannabis policy, and the highly regulated industries and stakeholders in this coalition bring expertise from across the public health, public safety, social equity, and youth use prevention communities that are prepared to work with others to help shape a responsible framework for federal legalization of cannabis," he added.
Among convenience channel leaders joining in support of the coalition are NACS and the Convenience Distribution Association (CDA).
"While NACS does not have a position on whether recreational cannabis should be legalized at a federal level, our industry supports a comprehensive and responsible regulatory framework for federal cannabis legalization should it happen," said Jon Taets, NACS director of government relations. "The convenience industry is often at the forefront of bringing new products to consumers, and our goal is to ensure that if a legal market emerges convenience retailers can compete on a level playing field if they choose to."
The coalition's Center of Excellence includes experts in the cannabis industry and policymaking. They will generate discussion and analysis on various questions surrounding lawmakers as they consider federal cannabis legalization and regulation.
In addition to NACS and CDA, the coalition's business and association members include Altria Client Services, the Brink's Co., Constellation Brands Inc., the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, and Molson Coors Beverage Co.
According to Freeman, the conversation is no longer about where or not to legalize cannabis, but how to establish a responsible federal framework for a legalized cannabis marketplace.
"We have the opportunity to create foundational, groundbreaking societal change," Freedman. "We can bring forth a new, legal cannabis market that bolsters communities, protects consumers and youth, and addresses public health and safety issues that are critical to all communities."
To learn more about the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation, click here.