Representatives with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) have reaffirmed that state-licensed cannabis businesses are ineligible for financial aid opportunities because marijuana remains classified as a schedule I controlled substance.
In a statement issued this week, a representative from the Administration acknowledged, “With the exception of businesses that produce or sell hemp and hemp-derived products (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-334), marijuana-related businesses are not eligible for SBA-funded services.”
In response, NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said, “With numerous states designating medical cannabis facilities as ‘essential’ to the health and welfare of the community during this time of crisis, it is critical that Congress authorizes the Small Business Association to similarly recognize their importance and allow the agency to provide these small businesses with economic assistance to ensure patient access and continuity of care.”
He added, “All that is needed by Congress is the passage of a one line legislative fix to protect tens-of-thousands of American jobs in a supply chain that serves over three million medical marijuana patients.”
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the SBA is actively providing economic assistance to numerous small and medium sized business nationwide.
NORML has been working with its Congressional allies to move forward several pieces of legislation, such as HR 3540: The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act, and HR 3884/S 2227: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act – which “prohibit the Small Business Administration from declining to provide certain small business loans to an eligible entity solely because it is a cannabis-related legitimate business or service provider.”
The state-licensed cannabis industry employs more than 240,000 American workers, over four times the number of American workers as does the coal industry. The majority of these businesses are small-to-medium in size.
Additional information about HR 3540: The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act is available online here.