Representatives from Colorado and Oregon, states known for liberal cannabis laws, want the cannabis industry to be included in future Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) legislation.
Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced legislation this week to ensure that that happens, allowing cannabis companies to be eligible for the PPP, along with Economic Injury Disaster Loans and other emergency loan advances.
The problem is that cannabis companies in states where the plant is legal are ‘essential workers’ during the pandemic, able to operate even despite the widespread lockdowns. But those companies have been barred from asking for loans or other assistance from the Small Business Administration, which includes the PPP intended to distribute loans to companies hurting during the virus.
Perlmutter decried the exception, saying cannabis companies were valuable contributors to the economy and deserved to be treated the same as anyone else.
Lawmakers from both parties supported the idea of including marijuana companies in the next round of the stimulus funding, which passed this week through both houses of Congress without any such inclusion.
But 34 members of Congress, spearheaded by Blumenauer and Barbara Lee of California, Don Young of Alaska and Tom McClintock of California, argued in a letter that the pandemic was no time to treat cannabis companies as if they are an exception to the many other sources of financial and economic stability of their communities.
The letter went on to say that cannabis companies legally employ over 240,000 people across the country in the 33 states where it is legal in some form, contributing $1.9 billion in state and local revenues.
By not having access to the CARES Act or other stimulus funds, the letter says cannabis companies are facing public health risks.
Cannabis firms were deemed essential in 8 of the 11 states where adult use is legalized. That number has advocates for the drug optimistic about its future prospects of legality.
This is an election year and several states, including New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, have bills about cannabis legalization on the ballot or might have those bills.