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It has been about a month since U.S. states and several countries instituted “stay at home” and social distancing protocols in an attempt to slow the spread of deadly coronavirus; resources, supply lines, and economic stability continue to be disrupted for millions of individuals and businesses worldwide.
The U.S. federal government has offered unprecedented financial stimulus relief funding to American citizens and businesses through the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (aka CARES Act). But while sheer numbers of the unemployed and small businesses applying for stimulus funding have crashed state and federal websites, one thing is almost certain—legal cannabis businesses are unlikely to receive funding.
“Where cannabis businesses remain federally illegal (because cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act), they are not eligible to get any benefits under the CARES Act. Additionally, federal illegality prevents cannabis businesses from receiving newly created “disaster loans” from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. (The SBA determined back in 2018 that cannabis businesses wouldn’t be eligible to receive federal loans),” said international law firm Harris Bricken on its company blog.
Harris Bricken also noted that since the Farm Act of 2018 has decriminalized hemp, some hemp industry businesses should be able to obtain federal stimulus funds. “Notably, where hemp is no longer a Schedule I controlled substance, those businesses are likely free to take advantage of the foregoing federal relief (though it’s [more dicey] for hemp-CBD businesses that violate the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act),” the HB blog said further.
But that’s not stopping the cannabis industry from stepping up. In response to federal funding issues, supply shortages, and other pandemic-related concerns, industry members and companies are donating and fundraising to help in any way they can.
On Monday, April 20, the industry will celebrate its biggest annual holiday—from a safe distance—with the Highstream 420 Festival, to benefit coronavirus-related charities. The streaming event, which will be available through show sponsor Nugs.tv, will be presented on 4/20, at 4:00pm EST.
The lineup boasts cannabis-famous and favorite performers, including headliner Melissa Etheridge, The Disco Biscuits, Ape Drums, The Pharcyde, LGBTQ advocate LaGanga Estranja, hashish master Frenchy Cannoli, well-known dispensary owner Berner & Friends, and production company Flow Kana, among others. There will be performances, workshops, demos and interactive panels for viewers to enjoy online.
Cannabis distribution company SparqOne and product producer KushyPunch have combined efforts to offer discounted wholesale prices on product, through the Cannabis Cares campaign, which is available to SparqOne partner brands.
“During these very difficult times, we felt it was important to give back to our community of patients and customers. We reached out to KushyPunch and they immediately jumped onboard,” said SparqOne General Manager Andrew Dorsett in a press release. “By lowering the cost of their gummies by nearly 30 percent, KushyPunch has enabled us to get more products onto shelves and out to patients, where it is needed most during this critical time.
Published: April 15, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News