Lawmakers Push for Cannabis Banking & Stimulus Aid

Congressional lawmakers are standing up for cannabis businesses’ right to access traditional financial services and the federal coronavirus stimulus packages that are currently unavailable to the industry.

Full story after the jump.

Colorado Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D) is reportedly pushing for provisions of the SAFE Banking Act to be included in the next wave of coronavirus stimulus packages and for the cannabis industry to have access to Small Businesses Administration loans being made available amid the pandemic, NJ.com reports.

Meanwhile, Marijuana Moment reports that a bipartisan group of 34 lawmakers delivered a letter to House leadership in support of the cannabis industry’s right to access the $2 trillion federal coronavirus stimulus package like any other small business.

SAFE Banking

The SAFE Banking Act, which would provide cannabis businesses access to traditional financial services, passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives last year but has not been taken up in the Republican-led Senate. Perlmutter told NJ.com that while industry supporters in Congress want to pass the SAFE Act, they know banking alone “won’t be enough to give cannabis businesses the relief they need like other businesses.”

“I plan to keep pushing to ensure the cannabis industry has the ability to be eligible for SBA relief funds during this COVID-19 crisis. I have spoken to House leadership about this matter and I’m hopeful in one of the next two packages we can get this done.” – Perlmutter to NJ.com

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed earlier this month, both cannabis firms that touch the plant and cannabis adjacent companies – such as those that provide consulting, testing, or lighting – are barred from receiving SBA loans. State legal hemp companies, which are recognized by the federal government, do have access to the program.

Letter to House leadership

Today, Perlmutter’s push was reinforced by 34 members of Congress who delivered a letter to House leadership calling for the cannabis industry, which has been deemed an essential service in most markets, to be given access to federal coronavirus stimulus aid.

In the letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, lawmakers wrote:

“The state-legal cannabis industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy and workforce, employing over 240,000 workers across 33 states and four territories, and generating $1.9 billion in state and local taxes in 2019. … State-legal cannabis businesses need access to CARES Act programs to ensure they have the financial capacity to undertake the public health and worker-focused measures experts are urging businesses to take.”

Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) reportedly led the effort behind the letter while pro-cannabis senators are expected to deliver a similar letter to Senate leadership in the coming days.

Earlier this month, 11 U.S. Senators sent a letter to the SBA asking them to allow state-approved cannabis companies to qualify for the stimulus loans.

Banking first

Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, told NJ.com that the industry is going to need access to traditional banking services before they would even be able to access any SBA programs.

“If we get SBA access but don’t get banking, how can SBA distribute money to someone who is unbanked?” Strekal asked. “Are they going to get $10,000 cash?”

 

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