Vermont marijuana firms ineligible for federal aid following floods

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Despite suffering losses, Vermont cannabis cultivators, retailers and manufacturers are barred from accessing any federal aid in the wake of last week’s devastating floods that swamped the state.

That includes all Federal Emergency Management Agency business assistance programs because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, VTDigger reported.

Cannabis farmers are also ineligible for federal crop insurance money, even if Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s emergency request for a U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster declaration is approved, according to the media publication.

“Because we are a federal agency, we have to follow federal law,” Carl Dombek, Small Business Administration spokesperson, said Monday, according to VTDigger.

“Cannabis is not legal under federal law, and therefore we are not able to lend to cannabis dispensaries.”

Geoffrey Pizzutillo, co-founder and executive director of the Vermont Growers Association, said early results from a survey of cannabis operators show “damage and loss” of outdoor and indoor crops, as well as production facilities, VTDigger reported.

Pizzutillo also said “it’s too early to tell” how the state’s cannabis businesses will emerge from the flooding.

“But we want to drive home that it is the entire supply chain. Every license type is being impacted — not just the outdoor farmers, but retailers and manufacturers as well.”

The lack of federal aid is a bitter reminder that cannabis companies nationwide have little recourse following natural disasters like wildfires, floods and heat waves, an unwelcome weather trifecta affecting several parts of the country and Canada this summer.

Cannabis companies from Northern California to South Florida will continue confronting operational challenges this week, as severe weather taxes power grids while parts of the Northeast struggle to recover from historic flooding.

Weather-related challenges will likely persist in New England as the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for Tuesday in parts of northwestern Connecticut, western Massachusetts, east-central New York and southern Vermont.

Vermont launched adult-use sales Oct. 1 with about 50 retailers prequalified for licensing.