Vermont Cannabis Businesses Affected by Floods Ineligible for Federal Aid

Officials have confirmed that Vermont cannabis businesses are ineligible for federal disaster aid for losses caused by the state’s recent floods because cannabis remains a federally prohibited, Schedule I drug.

Full story after the jump.

Vermont’s cannabis companies are ineligible for federal disaster aid for losses caused by flooding in the state last week, VT Digger reports. During a press conference Monday, Carl Dombek, public information officer for the Small Business Administration, said the agency has to “follow federal law” and because cannabis is a Schedule I drug at the federal level, the agency is “not able to lend to cannabis dispensaries.” 

Chelsey Smith, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) individual assistance branch director, told VT Digger that the agency is also unable to provide aid due to cannabis’ status as a Schedule I controlled substance. 

John Roberts, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency executive director for Vermont, also indicated that cannabis farmers would be ineligible for assistance even if Gov. Phil Scott’s (R) emergency request for a USDA disaster declaration is approved. 

Federal and state officials did say, however, that cannabis industry workers who lose their jobs due to the floods will be eligible for unemployment because that program is state-administered. 

James Pepper, chair of the Cannabis Control Board, told VT Digger that the flooding may not pose a “catastrophic” threat to the state’s cannabis industry as a whole, but due to the “very interdependent relationship” of the industry, when one business is affected “it hurts everyone.”  

The state could consider aid for affected businesses, which could be considered by lawmakers during a special session, but a special session has not yet been scheduled.

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