A U.S. senator has introduced a new bill that would allow state-legal marijuana businesses to access certain federal Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and services that are available to businesses in any other industry.
Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced the legislation Thursday, amid a week of significant congressional activity on cannabis reform issues.
The senator’s proposal would prevent the SBA from denying a range of loans and other services – including disaster relief, microloans and technical assistance – to companies solely because they are involved in cannabis markets. legal.
“Unfair barriers to basic federal support and resources have hurt small cannabis businesses operating legally in our state,” Rosen told Marijuana Moment. “This legislation will level the playing field so that small cannabis businesses, including those owned by people of color, women and veterans, have access to the same federal resources and loans that other legal businesses are entitled to.”
The “Fair Access Act for Small Cannabis Businesses” contains provisions similar to a bill tabled last year by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), though that legislation also contains broader language to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
New invoice does not have these federal legalization provisions, but it would amend the Small Business Act to add language to various sections stating that loans and services cannot be refused “solely because the borrower is a business or service provider legitimate cannabis-related”.
Rosen’s legislation also includes some additional small business law changes that weren’t included in Velázquez’s bill, such as ensuring that cannabis businesses can access “help from resource partners.” and to service providers such as small business development centers, women’s business centers and veteran businesses. neighborhood centers.
A section on SBA technical assistance would also be uniquely changed under Rosen’s bill to support the cannabis industry.
“For black and brown communities who have been ravaged by the war on drugs for decades, there is light at the end of the tunnel as the end of cannabis prohibition draws near,” said Khadijah Tribble, CEO of the US Cannabis Council (USCC). Friday press release. “But without access to capital through financing tools like SBA loans, most black and brown cannabis entrepreneurs won’t have the chance to profit from an industry that was once used to stigmatize them, even in the states. where the plant was legalized.”
Rosen, who serves on the Senate Small Business Committee, has long been an advocate for reforming the SBA to treat the cannabis industry the same as other mainstream markets.
Over the summer, Rosen asked his colleagues on the powerful appropriations committee to include provisions in a spending bill for give small marijuana businesses fair access to SBA loan programs and entrepreneurial development resources, for example.
The senator also addressed the issue during a Senate Small Business Committee hearing last year, receive a commitment from the candidate at the time and current SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman that she would consider expanding business access to the state-legal marijuana market.
Criticism of the lack of SBA access for cannabis companies has come to the fore amid the coronavirus pandemic. Rosen directed a separate letter addressing the issue alongside nine other senators last year.
The SBA confirmed in 2020 that cannabis companies are not eligible for disaster relief loans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
There has been talk of making it easier for the marijuana industry to access the SBA through a set of progressive cannabis reforms that is being actively finalized by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) , but others have signaled that the final bill will be more narrowly tailored, centering on bipartisan delisting and banking proposals.
“Senator Rosen’s landmark legislation would help advance fairness and innovation in the cannabis industry by leveling the playing field for independent cannabis operators,” said USCC’s Tribble. “If combined with the SAFE Banking Act, the Fair Access for Small Cannabis Businesses Act would create a regulatory framework that would ensure a vibrant startup scene and a diversity of players.”
A comprehensive legalization bill that Schumer, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) filed in July also contains a provision to create a 10-year pilot program through the SBA “for intermediary loans” to support small marijuana businesses owned by people who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
Rosen’s bill was introduced the same week as the full Senate endorsed the bipartisan cannabis research bill passed by the Housemarking the first time a stand-alone marijuana reform bill has been sent to the president’s office.
Also, Tuesday congressional lawmakers held a hearing to discuss the federal legalization of marijuana and cannabis developments in the states, hearing testimony from a broadly pro-reform panel of advocates.
The chairman of the subcommittee that held this hearing also said on Tuesday that he will introduce a bill soon to protect federal workers from denial of marijuana security clearances.
Read it text Rosen’s Marijuana Industry Access to SBA Services Bill below: