Six cannabis business groups are lobbying governors to provide state-based loans for the industry since cannabis firms are not eligible for federal coronavirus aid programs, according to The Hill.
In states that have legalized cannabis recreationally or medically the businesses are considered essential (except for recreational-use dispensaries in Massachusetts) and the organization say like other essential businesses, the cannabis industry is “facing significant uncertainty and costs to provide for our employees and to maintain the medical supply chain during this pandemic.”
“Yet, unlike every other essential business, there is an underlying federal-state tension which puts our businesses in a uniquely vulnerable and dire operational and financial position. This is particularly true of our small and minority-owned businesses.” – Cannabis industry letter to governors
The letter’s signatories include the Cannabis Trade Federation, Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce, Marijuana Policy Project, Minority Cannabis Business Association, National Cannabis Industry Association, and National Cannabis Roundtable.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides loans, paycheck protections and other financial services to businesses to help keep them afloat during the pandemic which has forced the U.S. economy to screech to a halt. Not only are cannabis businesses that touch the plant shut out from the federal programs, but also cannabis adjacent firms including cannabis testing laboratories, equipment sellers, and consultants.
Hemp businesses are able to access the program if they are in compliance with state and federal laws.
In the letter, the groups ask the governors to speak with their Congressional delegation “about including a provision in the next COVID-19 legislative relief package that would make state-legal cannabis businesses eligible for [Small Business Administration] assistance.”
Last week a cohort of Democratic senators from states with some form of cannabis legalization sent a letter to senators on the chamber’s Appropriations, and Financial Services committees urging them to allow cannabusinesses access to the program.
“While the underlying federal issues with banking, taxes, and capital access remain, our businesses need access to some additional liquidity to ensure reliability in the medical supply chain for patient access and employee retention in these uncertain times,” the letter from the cannabis industry says.
The letter notes that cannabis companies have donated personal protective equipment to first responders and medical workers, produced hand sanitizer and hired laid-off workers from other industries.