Federal Agency Affirms That State-licensed Cannabis Entities Are Ineligible for Economic Relief

Washington, DC: Representatives with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) reaffirmed publicly this week that state-licensed cannabis businesses remain ineligible for financial aid opportunities because marijuana remains classified as a schedule I controlled substance.

In an effort to help offset many businesses’ recent economic losses because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the SBA announced that it would be infusing capital and liquidity to businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic.

Nevertheless, a representative from the Administration has acknowledged, “With the exception of businesses that produce or sell hemp and hemp-derived products (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-334), marijuana-related businesses are not eligible for SBA-funded services.”

It is estimated that the state-licensed cannabis industry employs more than 240,000 American workers, over four times the number of American workers as does the coal industry.

“With numerous states designating medical cannabis facilities as ‘essential’ to the health and welfare of the community during this time of crisis, it is critical that Congress authorize the Small Business Association to similarly recognize their importance and allow the agency to provide these small businesses with economic assistance to ensure patient access and continuity of care,” said Justin Strekal, NORML’s Political Director. “All that is needed by Congress is the passage of a one line legislative fix to protect tens-of-thousands of American jobs in a supply chain that serves over three million medical marijuana patients.”

NORML has been working with its Congressional allies to move forward several pieces of legislation, such as HR 3540: The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act, and HR 3884/S 2227: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act – which “prohibit the Small Business Administration from declining to provide certain small business loans to an eligible entity solely because it is a cannabis-related legitimate business or service provider.”

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. Additional information regarding HR 3540 is available online.