Four credit unions have joined marijuana advocates who are pushing Congress to make marijuana firms eligible for Small Business Administration coronavirus crisis loans.
“The decision to bar the legal cannabis industry from these relief programs not only harms the longevity of the industry but also the hardworking Americans who rely on the industry for their livelihood,” the advocates, led by the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, said in a letter to congressional leaders last week. They said that the legal cannabis industry employs almost 300,000 in direct and indirect jobs.
In the letter, the groups said in order to help the industry, Congress could set aside block grants for states to use for non-specific pandemic relief. That way, governors could use the funds to help marijuana businesses in states where cannabis is legal.
They added that Congress also could amend pandemic relief legislation to make cannabis-related businesses eligible for loans, tax credits and other related assistance.
The groups said that they have financial institutions “on standby ready to immediately assist with the implementation of this aid in a safe and sound manner.”
The letter is signed by state affiliates of the trade association, as well as officials from four credit unions: Salal Credit Union of Seattle; Partner Colorado Credit Union of Arvada, Colo.; Guardians Credit Union of West Palm Beach, Fl. and GFA Federal Credit Union of Gardner, Mass.
Separately, Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Ed Perlmutter of Colorado have introduced legislation that would make cannabis-related companies eligible for the loans.
In addition, Perlmutter is pushing congressional leaders to add some form of his marijuana banking bill to a future pandemic relief measure. Perlmutter’s bill would provide financial institutions with a safe harbor for providing services to a cannabis-related company in states where marijuana is legal. The House has passed the measure, but it has not moved in the Senate, where Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id.) has expressed reservations about the measure.