Christopher Jensen, cofounder and treasurer of the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR), says the work the trade association has done on the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is just one example of the behind-the-scenes efforts the industry group does on a regular basis to push cannabis reform.
“It’s not just a trade association that monitors what’s happening on the Hill and reports back to their members. We’re doing a lot of the work,” says Jensen, who is also co-founder and CEO of Mana Supply Co., a medical cannabis company based in Maryland with locations in Missouri and Colorado. “And that was really attractive to me, to be able to sit down and not only spend the time explaining, educating, doing tours, doing things to help legislators understand what the issues were, but I really liked the notion that we were going to be so involved in policy itself.”
Now that the SAFE Banking Act is on its way to the Senate, where there is hope it will finally pass after making its way through the House multiple times, Jensen explains what NCR is focusing on next.
Michelle Simakis: What has been the National Cannabis Roundtable’s (NCR) priority most recently?
Christopher Jensen: We’ve done a lot of work on the SAFE Banking Act over the past couple of years. It’s come out of the House and we’re looking for a place for a place for that bill in the Senate.
[NCR helped] legislators with all the background information, and we got an alliance with the American Bankers Association … getting them all the information they needed to get to the place [the bill] is now, which is a banking bill that with bipartisan support very easily made it out of the House, and we do expect bipartisan support out of the Senate side.
MS: What is the biggest hurdle to passing the SAFE Banking Act and also the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which passed the House in December?
CJ: You can’t eat the whale in one bite. Everybody wants this change to happen immediately. The best way to get this done is incremental progress. So, you ask, what’s going to stand in the way? The more complex the problems, and the more issues you throw at it, the more places there are to disagree. So I think that while there may be this feeling that we want to have one great sweeping thing take care of it all and make all of our problems go away, I think the reality is for progress to go forward, we want to be incremental in that approach.
MS: How do you work on a bipartisan level to mitigate political disputes?
CJ: It’s about educating and finding out what’s important to a particular legislator no matter what their party and address those needs and concerns. That includes running back and forth between offices. We know from this office this