Members of Congress seek marijuana industry inclusion in coronavirus relief

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Almost three dozen members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter to congressional leaders urging that cannabis companies be included in future federal relief packages aimed at stimulating the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The letter was spearheaded by the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus, which is led by Democratic U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Barbara Lee of California as well as Republican Reps. Don Young of Alaska and Tom McClintock of California.

The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican.

The move was the result of the industry being largely left out of the $2 trillion CARES Act, which Congress passed in March to help the U.S. economy stave off some of the impacts from the coronavirus.

“As you draft the next COVID-19 relief bill, we write to ask that you address one of the shortcomings of the CARES Act – the exclusion of state-legal cannabis businesses and their employees,” the letter notes.

The letter:

  • Describes the marijuana industry as “a major contributor to the U.S. economy” and noted that the industry employs roughly 240,000 Americans and created nearly $2 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2019 alone.
  • Further emphasized the national trend of the industry being deemed “essential” by state governments during the coronavirus breakout.
  • Specifically requests that the industry be granted access to loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration and other assistance.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is no time to permit federal policy to stand in the way of the reality that … state-legal cannabis businesses are sources of economic growth and financial stability for thousands of workers and families, and need our support,” the letter stresses.

The letter was signed by a total of 34 House members – including many who are commonly political opponents, such as Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, and Michigan Democrat Rashida Talib, one of the four-woman liberal House group “The Squad.”

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