Cannabis Farmers Unable to Access USDA Disaster Aid

USDA Emergency Relief Program funds are not available for cannabis cultivators due to the plant’s federal status as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Hemp farmers are not subject to the same provisions.

Full story after the jump.

State-approved cannabis farmers will be unable to access federal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Emergency Relief Program funds due to cannabis’ Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act, Leafly reports. In an email to Leafly, a USDA spokesperson did indicate that hemp farmers would be eligible to receive aid from the program.  

“Marijuana is a controlled substance, and therefore is not eligible for federal farm programs.” — a USDA spokesperson to Leafly 

The program, announced by the USDA last month, includes $6 billion “for commodity and specialty crop producers impacted by natural disaster events in 2020 and 2021.” Cannabis farms were severely impacted by wildfires in the West during that period but will not be eligible for relief. THC-rich cannabis farmers are also prohibited from receiving aid from the federal Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which helps farmers whose uninsured crops are damaged or lost due to natural disasters. Hemp farmers, however, are eligible for relief under the program.

According to the Center for Insurance Policy and Research, private insurers are also discouraged from assisting cannabis businesses due to “conflicting state and federal laws” and “rapidly evolving regulations,” Leafly says. The organization said that cannabis growers face similar general liabilities and risks as other farmers, such as “workplace accidents, damage to property and crop failure” but are “especially prone to fires from both wild and internal sources,” the report says.  

Aid programs in other legal states also bar cannabis companies from accessing agricultural funds. But despite lacking federal recognition, Leafly notes that cannabis is still the fifth most valuable crop in the U.S.

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