Cannabis Groups Plead for SBA Loan Eligibility
The cannabis industry is not immune from the economic problems befalling the nation. Despite a recent boom in pot sales, small cannabis businesses are struggling like everyone else. Now, trade industry groups are asking for assistance.
The Small Business Association (SBA) recently announced low-interest loans of up to $2 million for small businesses harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. But cannabis businesses aren’t eligible for these loans.
In a letter to U.S. House and Senate leaders, the Cannabis Trade Federation, the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce, the Minority Cannabis Business Association, the National Cannabis Industry Association, and the National Cannabis Roundtable called for change.
The cannabis industry is not a minor part of the U.S. economy at this point. State-legal cannabis sales were expected to exceed $15billionthis year — andtoexpandtomorethan$25billionannuallyinthenearfuture. More importantly, it has been estimated that the cannabis industry supports close to 250,000 good-paying jobs. Some of these jobs have already been lost due to the health crisis and there is significant risk of greater job loss in the coming months. Moreover, should these businesses fail, patients and other consumers will be forced to turn to the illicit market, which raises significant public health and safety concerns.
The ineligibility of cannabis businesses for disaster assistance loans is especially inequitable given that these same cannabis businesses are required to comply with other coronavirus-related measures, such as paid sick leave coverage. We are not seeking special treatment for state-legal cannabis businesses. We only seek to have them treated on an equal level as all other job-generating, tax-paying companies in this country.
State-legal cannabis businesses are ineligible for SBA loans due to weed's federal status as an illegal drug. Lawmakers introduced a bill to change that last year.