Cannabis groups urge SBA loans made amid coronavirus crisis

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A cannabis industry coalition is urging Congress to ensure that state-legal marijuana businesses are eligible for emergency loans from the Small Business Administration during the coronavirus outbreak.

The SBA announced earlier this month that it would provide disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans of up to $2 million each to small businesses affected by the coronavirus.

But an SBA official indicated that state-legal cannabis businesses wouldn’t be eligible since marijuana remains federally illegal.

In a letter Friday to U.S. House and Senate leaders, the National Cannabis Industry Association and four other industry groups requested that cannabis businesses be “treated on an equal level as all other job-generating, tax-paying companies in the country.”

The letter noted that the cannabis industry mostly consists of small- and medium-sized businesses and that those companies must comply with federal coronavirus mandates.

For example, President Trump on Wednesday signed a bill that includes a provision requiring employers to pay two weeks of sick leave to workers who need time off to take care of themselves or other family members during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hannah Caplan, an attorney for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Denver, said businesses with fewer than 500 employees will be required to comply.

The federal Labor Department, she noted, can make an exception to businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the policies threaten the viability of the business.

The law also would provide reimbursement for businesses, but it was unclear whether state-legal cannabis businesses would qualify for that reimbursement given marijuana’s illegal status at the federal level.

– Jeff Smith

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.