One-man marijuana lobby takes on Capitol Hill

Canvas Capitol Hill on any given day and you'll run into hundreds of lobbyists. But Michael Correia is one of a kind.

He is the first full time lobbyist for the growing marijuana industry.

"I'm just a Capitol Hill vet like most Capitol Hill people," Correia said.

Correia, 44, has worked as a Republican staffer and lobbyist for more than 15 years. He was hired by the National Cannabis Industry Association five months ago.

"The first thing everyone says is, 'Congratulations,'" Correia said. "The second thing everyone says is, 'Do you have any samples?'"

He spends his days urging members and their staffers to change the law that prohibits banks from lending to marijuana vendors. That forces vendors to deal mainly in cash, which can be risky.

And now that marijuana is at least partially legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia, changing the law could mean billions for the industry.

So industry leaders are spending more time meeting with members of Congress like Virginia Democrat Jim Moran.

As for Correia, he says he hasn't used pot since he was a teenager.

He's more interested in the issue than inhaling.

"I've had my views on marijuana and they have definitely changed," Correia said. "I'm really open-minded and I think I represent a lot of people who basically are just coming into the marijuana issue. They want to learn more."

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