Cannabis Council of Canada asks for government help amid crisis

Published Mar 27, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / OlegMalyshev

The markets are tumbling, and cannabis stocks are quickly losing value, along with many other kinds of investments. Investors are panicking, and companies of all kinds are reeling from the sudden need to close up shop or reduce hours in an attempt to enforce social distancing by giving the public no choice but to stay home.

A recession is now on the horizon in Canada and many other regions, and with so little known about what’s to come, many business owners are wondering if they’ll be able to survive this ordeal. Out of desperation, some companies are choosing to remain open in hopes of making enough money to keep employees and bills paid, but with Canadian health officials recommending that everyone take special precautions and stay home whenever necessary, most want to know that it’s feasible to make that decision.

On March 18th, the Canadian government announced a financial stimulus package that included a flurry of new financial assistance measures aimed to help businesses that find themselves impacted by this crisis. Much of the details remain unknown, but most small business owners were ecstatic to hear that agencies such as the Business Development Bank of Canada would offer financial assistance to help them to maintain some semblance of normalcy and peace of mind.

Unfortunately, the BDC has long discriminated against the cannabis industry by refusing services to any business or agency that seeks their guidance, and so far, little has been done to ensure that business owners who work in this sector are treated fairly. It seems that this trend is continuing as even with an active pandemic on our hands, leaving those who work within the cannabis industry reeling.

The BDC is maintaining its policies that clearly prohibit working with any businesses from the cannabis industry that works directly with the plant, which means that small business owners who are severely impacted by the crisis will have few options compared to other service industry counterparts. This revelation along with the increasing risk of staying open sparked a cry from the Canadian Council of Cannabis.

They might need help paying bills

As the risk of workers who continue to show up and provide services to the general public increases, the pressure is on, and that is why the Cannabis Council of Canada has stepped up to advocate for these incredible new and vulnerable businesses. George Smitherman from the CCC wrote a letter to The Honorable Mary Ng who is the minister of Small Business International Expert Promotion and Trade, requesting that the federal government take steps now to ensure fairness and assistance for those who work within the cannabis industry.

So far, the BDC is promising to help all businesses who require financial assistance and advice, while maintaining their policies on refusing the cannabis industry. They have also promised to watch the situation as it evolves and to alter their regulations if and when it might be necessary to do so. So far, it doesn't sound hopeful for cannabis businesses that interact directly with the plant, and that’s not a good thing if we truly want these necessary storefronts and processors to remain in business after the epidemic is over.

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