According to National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), it wasn’t just the “Unaired Lincoln” ad that made them drop Tommy Chong from their lobbying on Capitol Hill. Politico is reporting that according to an “internal email” obtained by them, the cannabis industry (the article states cannabis industry but I think they mean NCIA) wants to be taken seriously and they feel the image that Tommy Chong embodies is a negative stereotype.
The NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith reportedly sent Tommy Chong’s reps an email, part of which is quoted below:
“Having Tommy out in DC for the NCIA Lobby Days will detract from the overall message we aim for with the event, which is that cannabis business people are regular professionals and relatable to the generally conservative members of Congress we are looking to appeal to,” Smith wrote. “We are here to break ‘stoner’ stereotypes rather than reinforce them.”
On the “Unaired Lincoln” video, he wrote:
“This was released less than a week ago and only intensifies my previous concern,” Smith wrote. “This sort of message is exactly the opposite of what we are trying to do with our efforts to legitimize the industry by showing it in a positive and responsible light.”
In our opinion, the concern for being “relatable” is misplaced when it comes lobbying politicians, conservative or otherwise. No politician is going to support an issue for “relatability”. They care about votes. Tommy Chong brings more people to the table, not only for his celebrity, but because he is seen as a likable person by the public. WIth their actions and words, all NCIA has managed to do is let the marijuana community know NCIA is probably run by non-smokers.
The Politico article is reporting that there’s already been push back by some in the industry. Pete O’Neil of C&C Cannabis Company in Seattle stated he dropped his membership from NCIA.
“Maybe there’s a reason marijuana is still illegal. Maybe we don’t have the right guys in D.C.,” O’Neil said.
The Tommy Chong’s reps tried to keep the focus on the overall goal of the movement.
“We do not want to escalate this event in any manner. NCIA made a decision based on their understanding of the landscape along with their goals and objectives for the event,” the spokesman said. “We all want the same thing here and we do not want to cause, or be part of, any ripples in our allied goal.”
And NCIA seems to have realized this is a public relations problem with them coming out to “clarify” the actions.
What is your opinion? Has the cannabis industry gotten so mature that it’s time to hand it over to “relatable” people who show such disrespect to someone who has been at the forefront of the movement, including doing time in jail?
And the video that seem to bother people at NCIA so much:
Full Story at Politico “Pot lobby turns its back on ‘Cheech & Chong’“