Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) have introduced legislation to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to apply for COVID-19 benefits through the Small Business Administration. Currently, the SBA is prohibited from engaging with cannabis businesses due to federal marijuana criminalization.
In the majority of jurisdictions that regulate cannabis marketplaces, state policymakers have designated these operations to be ‘essential’ to the health and well-being of the patient community. In others, regulators have either relaxed protocols or moved forward with new, emergency rules to facilitate expanded access – such as permitting patients to seek telemedicine appointments and allowing dispensaries to permit curbside pick-up and home delivery.
The new legislation would create an exemption for the SBA to allow it and it’s employees to facilitate support to qualifying small marijuana businesses.
“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, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “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.”
“Cannabis businesses are major employers and significant contributors to local economies in Colorado and across the country,” said Rep. Perlmutter. “They should receive the same level of support as other legal, legitimate businesses and be eligible for SBA relief funds during this COVID-19 crisis.”