Minority marijuana companies need federal relief, advocate tells Congress

Women, minority execs show few gains in U.S. cannabis industry, according to the latest data from the MJBiz Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Report. Get your copy here.

Small and minority-owned marijuana companies likely won’t survive without some help from Congress, an industry insider testified before a subcommittee hearing.

Amber Littlejohn, the executive director of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, urged the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protections and Financial Institutions, to support both the SAFE Banking Act and reforms that would make state-legal marijuana companies eligible for federal financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Law360 reported.

“Without some relief from Congress, minority cannabis businesses will not make it to the day we see federal legalization. Some did not make it to the end of this week,” Littlejohn told the subcommittee on Thursday, adding that state-level social equity programs have not been able to keep many minority-owned businesses afloat.

Amberjohn’s comments led at least one influential House committee chair to suggest that marijuana issues should be addressed in the 2023 Farm Bill, Roll Call reported.

“Here we are, the fastest growing agricultural product, between hemp and cannabis,” U.S. Rep. David Scott, chair of the House Agriculture Committee, said that “we’re also going into our Farm Bill. We’ve got to address this issue. We can no longer hide it.”

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The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp production by removing the crop from the Controlled Substances Act. Since then, the hemp industry has enjoyed a major growth spurt.

According to Law360, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, the primary sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, told reporters recently that he’s secured a commitment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she’ll support keeping the SAFE measure attached to a larger omnibus spending package – the America COMPETES Act – if the already-approved House bill has to be reconciled with the Senate version.