WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of ten senators demanded Congress make federal disaster assistance and economic relief programs available to cannabis businesses and companies that support the industry.
In a June letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Appropriations Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittee, the senators called on leadership to specifically include the cannabis industry in the fiscal year 2022 FSGG spending bill report. If modified, the report would authorize the Small Business Administration to extend federally insured, low-interest loans and other relief to state-legal cannabis and ancillary businesses that currently are excluded from such programs because they deal in a federally illegal substance.
Authored by Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), the letter urges the committees to command the SBA to stop “denying loan applications for the 7(a) Loan Guarantee Program, Disaster Assistance Program, Microloan Program, and 504/Certified Development Company Loan Program to legally operating cannabis small businesses in states that have legalized cannabis sale and use.”
“SBA’s current policy excludes small businesses with ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ products or services that aid the use, growth, enhancement, or other development of cannabis from SBA-backed financing,” Rosen wrote. “Consequently, small businesses in states with some form of legal cannabis must choose between remaining eligible for SBA programs and participating in or doing business with a rapidly-growing and legal industry.”
In 2020, Congress tasked the SBA, a cabinet-level agency, with distributing hundreds of billions of dollars in special appropriations designed to prop up entities devastated by lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency ruled those funds, including SBA loans, off-limits to the state-legal cannabis industry.
In addition to Rosen and Wyden, signatories included Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).