Cannabis Businesses May Soon Be Able to Access Disaster Relief Funds
October 8, 2020 03:29 pm ET
Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
If approved, a new congressional bill could help cannabis businesses receive federal disaster relief funds. Under current regulations, cannabis businesses do not receive federal relief funds. That could all change if the new legislation introduced to the Senate and House of Representatives is successful. The Small Business Association or SBA for short has denied the cannabis industry access to any of these funds or programs.
Natural Disaster Threatens the West Coast Cannabis Industry
Currently, the cannabis industry has faced a devastating blow of natural disasters ranging from fires and floods to early freezes. Cannabis farming is legal at the state level in Oregon and California. Both states have recently been devastated by a heartbreaking series of wildfires. These wildfires destroy cannabis crops in more than one way.
They do more than just catch grows on fire. The wildfire smoke itself can ruin a cannabis crop. It wasn’t long ago that wildfires destroyed cannabis crops across Canada. For quite a while afterward, you could find campfire weed at a budget price. It might have been OG Kush at one time, but now it was campfire Kush. Some people could smoke this just fine. However, other people could not touch it without getting nauseous, a headache, or both.
Much Needed Change Could be on the Horizon
Peter Defazio, Earl Blumenauer, Jeff Merkley, and Ron Wyden have introduced a bill that could bring much-needed change to the legal cannabis industry. The new bill is called the Small Business Disaster Relief Equity Act. This is a much-needed step in the right direction for cannabis businesses experiencing loss due to environmental and social issues. The combination of wildfires and COVID-19 has hurt the country’s economy in many ways. A lot of small businesses were barely able to stay afloat while many of them ended up sinking. Suppose the new Small Business Disaster Relief Equity act was to see success, cannabis businesses would have access to applying for disaster relief funds. There is precise wording that requires the head of federal agencies responsible for administering disaster relief funds like the Small Business Administration to abide by. This wording states that the SBA “shall come into the greatest extent practicable, allow State and legal cannabis businesses to retroactively apply for such disaster assistance.” Senator Ron Wyden was quoted in the media saying,
“Cannabis businesses in Oregon hurt by the blazing wildfires or any other disaster shouldn’t be shut out from federal relief simply because the federal government is stuck in yesteryear. These small legal businesses employ thousands of workers and support our struggling economy. If they need Federal support, they should get it. Full stop. “
A Burning Flame in the Side of the Cannabis Sector
Currently, the SBA has a program for small businesses destroyed or damaged by wildfires in Oregon that offers a disaster relief loan program. This program is offered for all businesses affected by this natural disaster except for the illegal cannabis industry.
The recent wildfires in the state of Oregon have caused havoc amongst the cannabis growing community. It wasn’t just growers that were affected by these fires. It’s also cannabis dispensaries. This means that managers, budtenders, and more experienced a disruption in their financial lives. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission estimated that 20% of the cannabis businesses across the state of Oregon were encouraged to leave or evacuate because of the wildfires. While cannabis business owners are experiencing devastation and loss, State regulators are chiming in at just the right time, asking them to fill out surveys to furthermore explain the extents of damage and loss due to the wildfires.
Growing Demand Among Decreasing Supplies
Statistics are reporting that Americans love cannabis. We kind of already knew that since we’ve been protesting the legality of it for decades now. However, these statistics show impressive increases in the demand for cannabis products during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Economic Analysis Office in Oregon released a report stating that recreational sales have reached 30% higher than forecasted since the beginning of the pandemic. This means that the wildfires couldn’t have come at a worse time. The demand for cannabis has increased, and the supply has now decreased.
This is an area where interstate transportation of legal cannabis could prove very useful and profitable for all parties involved should it ever be legalized. The legal cannabis sector is employing more people than ever before. It’s not just people that grow cannabis. There are engineers, architects, electricians, IT professionals, management, and many other professions employed by the legal cannabis sector. Budtenders are another huge side of that. There are more budtenders in the United States of America than there are bakers.
With so many people in America employed by the legal cannabis industry, it is high time the federal government ends its unrealistic and outdated stance on marijuana prohibition. How much longer can they stand against the people yet be allowed to govern us? It’s time for laws to change. Our political leaders should show us they are listening to the people’s voice by removing cannabis from the controlled substance act and allowing these legal businesses access to federal disaster relief and banking amongst many other things.
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