How the CARES Act Program discriminates against cannabis businesses

Published Apr 28, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / cbies

What will happen to the cannabis industry during this unprecedented time? The government has approved a 350 million dollars tab to assist during the COVID 19. However, the available money has gone. One wonders if the cannabis industry is included in any of the safety net benefits.

Many of the states where cannabis is legal have declared dispensaries to be an essential service during this pandemic. However, Mr. Trump, the President of the United States of America, does not have those same views. He and the U.S. Congress do not see the green industry as fundamental. This enacted law for cannabis is not on the federal level. Currently, federal marijuana legalization remains out of reach for Americans.

No help

The new law enacted to assist struggling businesses will probably leave the cannabis business space out in the cold. Marijuana currently is still illegal at the federal level, and thus the CARES Act money is not available to those businesses. This CARES Act will not assist ancillary and plant-touching companies. However, the need for assistance is paramount among struggling businesses, and as such, lobbying is underway to remedy this.

How does the CARES Act assist businesses?

On March 27, 2020, we saw President Trump's attempt to assist businesses in trouble due to the COVID-19 virus effects on the nation. This Act would allow borrowers to submit loan applications. The U.S. Small-business Administration (SBA) approved the Business Loan Program and the Temporary Changes Paycheck Protection Program. This would assist businesses by providing forgiveness for accepted loans. Companies will be able to meet their paycheck responsibilities to employees. However, things are not budding together for the cannabis industry.

Help from Congress could it be on the way?


Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have penned a letter to the congressional leaders. They want the cannabis companies to be included in any future federal relief packages. These packages are aimed to boost the economy during this pandemic. Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, was one of the letter receivers.

Where's the green lining?

The cannabis industry has been left out again, as there is no space in the 2 trillion-dollar CARES Act for green companies. The following are some of the issues laid out in the letter to the U.S. House of Representative Nancy Pelosi.

  • The state government has deemed cannabis as being on the essential list during this virus outbreak
  • Marijuana is a significant contributor to the American economy
  • Over 240,000 Americans are employed in the industry
  • 2 billion dollars in state and local tax revenues were collected in 2019

Contained within the letter is the plight of the state-legal cannabis businesses who are the source of economic growth, financial strength, and support to thousands of families and workers. The letter stressed the need for help from the government for this business space.

Moving forward, a coalition of cannabis industry groups continues to fight for the inclusion of cannabis companies and the ancillary businesses in COVID-19 economic recovery packages. The National Cannabis Industry Association is demanding that the cannabis industry be treated as equal. The same as employment and tax-paying companies throughout the country.

Two High Times magazines have suspended publication due to COVID19


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