With another major round of COVID-19 federal financial assistance around the corner, two lawmakers in states with previously booming cannabis businesses are asking for the federal government to bring the industry in from the cold.
The legislation, proposed by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), would make cannabis companies eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and emergency advances through the disaster loan program.
Cannabis companies have been given essential business status, allowing them to continue operating in most states where marijuana has been legalized for medical and recreational sale. Still, cannabis companies aren’t able to apply for loans or other COVID-19 aid through the Small Businesses Administration, even if they would otherwise meet a program’s requirements. That includes the PPP, a forgivable loan program introduced after the last major COVID-19 financial relief package.
While many small business owners scrambled to apply for PPP loans, which turn into grants if applied toward keeping workers employed, few were able to secure the funds. Worse, some of the loans were awarded to major restaurant chains, hedge funds and other companies that defied the definition of a small business.
“Cannabis businesses are major employers and significant contributors to local economies in Colorado and across the country,” Rep. Perlmutter said. “They should receive the same level of support as other legal, legitimate businesses and be eligible for SBA relief funds during this COVID-19 crisis.”