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‘Political heavyweights’ unite to fight for cannabis from the capitol to the counties

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One of the top lobbying firms in Sacramento, Capitol Advocacy, has teamed up with a third-generation Los Angeles-based firm, Spiker Consulting Group, to take on the cause of California’s struggling cannabis industry.

This partnership of “some of California’s most respected political heavyweights,” aims to create a “one-stop-shop for the cannabis industry’s government relations, lobbying and advocacy needs at both the local and state level,” according to a statement put out by the two firms.

Adam Spiker, senior partner with SCG and executive director of the Southern California Coalition — consisting of 300 licensed entities from all aspects of the cannabis industry — said that his firm will focus on the municipal level.

“Everything starts with local, and that’s Spiker Consulting’s niche,” he said.

For the last five years, Spiker has worked with municipal governments from across SoCal, from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

The problem California’s legal cannabis industry faces is unique, Spiker said.

“We didn’t have a blank chessboard like other states had,” he said.

Instead, California inherited a patchwork of legal statuses — varying from county to county and even from city to city — that the state has been struggling to adapt to ever since.

The alliance of Spiker Consulting and Capitol Advocacy will focus on a variety of cannabis-related issues, including: “over taxation; municipal bans; zoning, licensing, social equity enforcement and advocacy issues; the continued education of decision makers, influencers and elected officials; and other regulatory issues,” according to a statement from the groups.

In an interview, Spiker said that the no. 1 issue facing the legal cannabis industry is taxation. He said state and local governments are happy to take their cut from the legal industry, “but haven’t done anything of substance to get rid of all this illegal competition.”

He said the state won’t be able to get a handle on enforcing the illegal market until the legal market is given the chance to better compete with a smaller tax bill.

“This thing is incredibly complex, and you could see it with what happens with our Legislature,” Spiker said, pointing to the number of cannabis-related bills tackled by state lawmakers this year. “There’s a lot of effort at the state level.”

That’s where Capitol Advocacy comes in, Spiker said.

“They bring tremendous respect and horsepower when it comes to working with the state government,” he said. “I think it’s a tremendous marriage in that regard. ... We’re completely complementary of each other.”

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
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