The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) reiterated on Monday that marijuana companies are not eligible for disaster relief loans to lessen the blow of the coronavirus outbreak.
Because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, the marijuana industry is being denied access to these aid opportunities, including programs administered by SBA. The agency’s Northwest branch confirmed that in a response to a tweet from a cannabis business owner who inquired about eligibility.
“With the exception of businesses that produce or sell hemp and hemp-derived products [that were federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill], marijuana-related businesses are not eligible for SBA-funded services,” the post states.
Greg Hubly, the Washington State-based business owner expressed frustration and said there are “10 families I’m responsible for and know all this talk about business relief is just more bullshit messaging for my industry.”
SBA recommended that he explore relief options provided by state or local agencies.
Last week, an SBA spokesperson similarly clarified that marijuana companies aren’t getting a cut of the federal dollars being appropriated for business disaster relief.
“Because federal law prohibits the sale and distribution of cannabis, the SBA does not provide financial assistance to businesses that are illegal under federal law,” SBA’s Carol Chastang told Cannabis Business Times. “Businesses that aren’t eligible include marijuana growers and dispensers, businesses that sell cannabis products, etc., even if the business is legal under local or state law.”
This barrier to aid access for what’s becoming a massive industry in states across the U.S. has elicited strong pushback from reform advocates and stakeholders.
A coalition of marijuana industry trade groups—including the National Cannabis Industry Association, National Cannabis Roundtable, Minority Cannabis Business Association and Cannabis Trade Federation—signed a joint letter last week, urging congressional leaders to lift restrictions and allow cannabis businesses to obtain the same relief as any other legitimate market.
Published: March 25, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News