House lawmakers introduce coronavirus relief bill for cannabis industry
Last Thursday, a bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives that would enable marijuana businesses to apply for coronavirus relief programs.
The Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and has been co-sponsored by fourteen members of the House, including Colorado representatives Ed Perlmutter (D), Jason Crow (D), Joe Neguse (D), and Diana DeGette (D).
Although cannabis businesses have been deemed essential in legal states, the federal government’s prohibition on marijuana means that marijuana businesses are not eligible for federal aid.
The bill would enable cannabis companies to have the same access to federal money through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster loans.
However, there’s not much chance of the bill passing in the Senate without being part of a larger Coronavirus relief package. The good news is that there does appear to be bipartisan support for including marijuana businesses in the next coronavirus stimulus bill.
On April 17, a bipartisan group of 34 members of Congress sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) urging them to allow cannabis businesses to access federal disaster relief.
“Workers at state-legal cannabis businesses are no different from workers at any other small business — they show up to work every day, perform their duties, and most importantly, work to provide for their families,” lawmakers said in the letter. “This lack of access will undoubtedly lead to unnecessary layoffs, reduced hours, pay cuts, and furloughs for the workers of cannabis businesses who need support the most.
“The state-legal cannabis industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy and workforce, employing over 240,000 workers across 33 states and four territories, and generating $1.9 billion in state and local taxes in 2019,” lawmakers wrote. “State-legal cannabis businesses need access to CARES Act programs to ensure they have the financial capacity to undertake the public health and worker-focused measures experts are urging businesses to take.”