The House Committee on Small Business heard testimony by cannabis industry operators on Wednesday about the challenges they face accessing Small Business Administration programs, according to a report by The Hill.
Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez said the hearing, titled “Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry,” was aimed to bring attention to a “rapidly evolving” industry that has “small businesses at the forefront.” The Democratic Assemblymember is drafting legislation that would allow cannabis businesses access to SBA programs.
“Despite growing economic opportunities around legal cannabis, factors like federal law enforcement, conflicting rules among the states, and our current banking regulations are hindering the ability for entrepreneurs and small businesses to fully engage in this new industry.” – Velázquez, during hearing remarks, via The Hill
During the hearing, Dana Chaves, senior vice president and director of specialty banking at Florida’s First Federal Bank, said that she thought she was allowed to serve the industry but federal laws prevented her from providing full services, such as small business loans.
“I hope this Committee will develop and pass legislation that expands access to business loans and lending programs under the jurisdiction of SBA for cannabis-related business, many of which are led by aspiring entrepreneurs or are minority or women-owned,” she said during her testimony.
Ohio Republican Steve Chabot, a ranking member of the committee, was skeptical of the industry and warned about the negative effects of cannabis use.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration held its first hearing related to cannabis products – namely CBD – and in March the SAFE Banking Act, which would give state-legal canna-businesses access to financial services, moved out of the House Financial Services Committee; however Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, chairman of the Senate banking committee, has not committed to giving that legislation a hearing.
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