Senate Coalition Urges SBA to Support Small Cannabis Businesses – NORML Blog

by Justin Strekal, NORML Political DirectorApril 2, 2020

Eleven US Senators — Michael Bennett (), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) — have sent a letter to leadership urging lawmakers to permit licensed cannabis operators to qualify for loans and other forms economic assistance available from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The Senators write:

Over the last decade, there has been a clear shift in public opinion toward supporting the legalization of cannabis in the United States. Some states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, have legalized both the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis. States collected an estimated $1.3 billion in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales in 2018. However, SBA’s current policy excludes small businesses with “direct” or “indirect” products or services that aid the use, growth, enhancement, or other development of cannabis from SBA-backed financing. Consequently, small businesses in states with some form of legal cannabis must choose between remaining eligible for SBA loan programs, or doing business with a rapidly-growing and legal industry.

Just two weeks ago, a representative from the Administration 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.”

The Senators close their letter stating, “We strongly support ensuring that SBA loan programs are made available to all cannabis small businesses.”

While the letter specifically calls for these changes to be made as part of the traditional appropriations process, which will not be concluded until September 2020 at earliest, one additional pathway would be to include legislative language in the next anticipated bill to

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