Today, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing entitled Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry to discuss the economic and employment opportunities in the emerging legal cannabis industry and the challenges that federal prohibition and criminalization pose in regards to the Small Business Administration.
Currently, the SBA is prohibited from providing support, guidance, or microloans to small businesses in the cannabis industry, unlike every other sector of the economy.
In order to provide for inclusiveness within the legal industry, federal policy should strive to reduce roadblocks for qualified entrepreneurs in order to encourage participation from formerly disenfranchised populations. Enterprising individuals who would benefit most from the critical resources that the Small Business Administration provides must not be discriminated against in their quest to be job creators around the country.
Shanita Penny, President of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and the lead witness called by the Committee to testify said just prior to the hearing “The undeniable effects of the drug war are hampering equity in the industry, but together, we can address and repair the harms caused by discriminatory enforcement of marijuana laws and ensure access to and diversity in the emerging legal cannabis industry.”
After the hearing, Committee Chairwoman Velázquez said “As more and more states take steps to bring cannabis to commerce, we are seeing small businesses at the forefront of this expanding industry. As the only House Committee dedicated solely to the needs of small firms, it is important for us to be shedding light on the challenges these small entities face as well as the economic potential they offer.”
It is for these reasons and more, NORML asks the House Committee on Small Business to advance legislation that would allow the Small Business Administration to engage with entrepreneurs and small businesses.
NORML additionally submitted testimony to the Committee that can be viewed here.