Senators seek Small Business Administration COVID-19 relief funds for weed industry

In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, they note that the cannabis sector employs more than 240,000 U.S. workers.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are among 10 in the upper chamber who've signed a letter asking for aid for the cannabis sector. Senate Democrats photo.

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Pressure is building on the Trump administration to extend a helping hand to weed producers and their employees.

In an April 22 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, 10 members of the upper chamber declared that the “coronavirus crisis demands relief for all workers and businesses, no matter the sector.”

Therefore, they have asked the Senate leadership to include state-legal cannabis small businesses and the small businesses that work with the industry in any aid package delivered by the Small Business Administration.

The 10 senators pointed out that more than 240,000 people are employed in the cannabis industry, yet they are excluded from financing from this federal agency, which supports entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“Workers at state-legal cannabis small businesses are no different from workers at any other small business—they show up to work every day, perform their duties, and most importantly, work to provide for their families,” the senators wrote. “This lack of access to SBA assistance for cannabis small businesses will undoubtedly lead to unnecessary layoffs, reduced hours, pay cuts, and furloughs for the workers who need support the most.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is no time to permit outdated federal policy to stand in the way of the reality that state-legal cannabis small businesses are sources of economic growth and financial stability for thousands of workers and families,” they added.

The signatories include five former candidates for the 2000 Democratic Party presidential nomination: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Michael Bennet.

The five other signatories are Catherine Cortez Masto, Jeffrey Merkley, Edward Markey, Ron Wyden, and Jacky Rosen.

In the past, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president, Joe Biden, has described cannabis as a gateway drug and has opposed legalization efforts.

In a recent interview, however, Biden insisted that he no longer considers weed as a pathway to harder drugs. He still won’t endorse federal legalization of cannabis, but he supports decriminalizing possession and letting states set their own rules around this industry.

CannCentral previously reported that two Democratic Congressmen, Earl Blumenauer and Ed Perlmutter, have introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to make legal cannabis businesses eligible for Small Business Administration funding.

Charlie Smith

I'm the editor of the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver, as well as a CannCentral contributor.

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