Cannabis Companies Left out of Coronavirus Relief Programs
Cannabis companies were not included in the latest, third phase of coronavirus legislation passed by the US Senate on Tuesday. Lobbyists are now targeting the new package, expected sometime in May.
Access to federal stimulus packages would allow small businesses to keep their workers and stop job losses from further damaging the economy. However, the SBA currently prohibits cannabis companies from receiving federal financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though they were deemed as essential services. Ancillary businesses that service the sector, such as law and accounting firms, are also denied access to government funds.
This decision has prompted a coalition of lawmakers to send a letter to the body’s leadership on Wednesday, asking that changes be made to the fourth coronavirus relief package providing pot companies with federal aid, just like other small businesses in the country.
The letter, signed by ten Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders, comes days after almost three dozen members of the House of Representatives sent a letter with similar requests to congressional leaders.
Cannabis companies are like any other business with employees who work hard to provide for their families, Senators wrote in the letter. They added that the coronavirus outbreak is no time to let “outdated federal policy” deny the fact that legal cannabis businesses are a source of economic growth and that, like for any other American company, it is their duty to provide financial stability for their workforce and community.
In addition to access to SBA-funded programs, weed companies are also asking Congress for cannabis-related banking reform, which would allow the industry easier access to federal stimulus money and provide clarity to banks and credit unions regarding servicing these businesses; due to cannabis being illegal on a federal level, many companies operating in this market face banking issues, even the ones dealing with legal CBD.
Requests like these show the need, and the desire, for the cannabis industry to be established on a federal level.
The spreading of the virus has stopped the legalization process in several states and caused a great deal of economic damage to the industry in the form of canceled events as well as by negatively impacting the supply chain.
Cannabis industry associations warn that both big and small weed businesses will be in trouble unless they get “access to federal relief.”