Members of Congress from Oregon have introduced a measure to give state-legal cannabis businesses access to federal disaster relief programs. The proposal comes as wildfires ravage the West, and are having a devastating impact on the cannabis industry.
The effort is being led by Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
In a statement, Merkley said regardless of someone’s stance on legal cannabis, “we can all agree that families in all of our communities are struggling to keep the lights on and stay afloat during this turbulent time — and that they need and deserve support.”
“That includes thousands of small business owners, workers and their families who rely on state-legal cannabis businesses for their livelihoods. We have to make sure those families won’t be shut out from critical assistance that can make a real difference.” — Merkley in a press release
The Small Business Disaster Relief Equity Act would allow cannabis businesses to be eligible for relief pursuant to any federal disaster declaration issued beginning January 1, 2020, the Congressmen said in the joint release. The legislation would require the head of each individual agency to allow state-legal cannabis businesses to apply for assistance retroactively.
DeFazio called it “ridiculous” that affected cannabusinesses “are being denied critical wildfire aid because of outdated policies.”
“Cannabis businesses employ thousands across Oregon and are a vital economic engine for our state,” he said in a statement. “This important legislation will ensure that these businesses are eligible for the same aid as every other business impacted by the 2020 wildfires.”