Two longtime legal cannabis proponents—Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)—introduced a bill in the House today that would allow marijuana businesses access to federal coronavirus-related assistance. Specifically, the “Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act” would make state-legal marijuana companies eligible for three relief programs under the Small Business Administration (SBA): the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program, and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans Emergency Grants program.
Like a lot of businesses, many licensed marijuana companies have been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19. Earlier this month we observed that while marijuana business have been declared “essential” in several states, the SBA specifically prohibits them from receiving relief under the foregoing relief programs. The proposed legislation seeks to correct that perceived inequity. “As Congress seeks to provide relief to small businesses across America, chief among those being left out are state-legal cannabis businesses that are essential to communities and have met the demands of this crisis,” said Rep. Blumenauer in a statement. “We should include state-legal cannabis in federal COVID-19 response efforts. Without providing these businesses the relief needed to carry out the recommended public health and worker-focused measures, we are putting these hard-working people—and ourselves—at risk.”
It remains to be seen whether this standalone bill has a realistic chance of passing or if it will aid in efforts to include licensed marijuana businesses in future coronavirus-related relief bills, but it shows that there are legislators trying to look out for state-legal marijuana businesses. We will be continue to monitor these developments and report on our blog.
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