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Congress Announces Proposed Bills To Open SBA Programs To Legal Cannabis Businesses

The proposed legislation would be massive for small cannabis operators

Yesterday, House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) announced legislation to extend several Small Business Administration (SBA) initiatives to small businesses operating in the cannabis sector.

Velázquez has introduced H.R. 3540, the Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act of 2019. This bill would make direct or indirect cannabis businesses eligible for SBA-backed loans including: the 7(a) loan guaranty program; disaster assistance; the Microloan program; and the 504 loan program. Since many of these programs are geared towards borrowers who have trouble obtaining credit from conventional loans, Velázquez’s bill would help to level the playing field for entrepreneurs from communities of color and other underserved areas that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs.

“As our society continues to move the needle on this issue, we must recognize that legal cannabis businesses are often small businesses that fuel local economies and create new jobs,” said Chairwoman Velázquez.“That is why I am pleased to introduce legislation to extend affordable lending options to small businesses that operate in the cannabis space, while simultaneously recognizing the structural disadvantages facing entrepreneurs from communities of color.”

Rep. Golden who serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure, has introduced H.R. 3543, the Ensuring Access to Counseling and Training Programs for All Small Business Act of 2019. This bill would prohibit SBA resource partners including: Small Business Development Centers; Women’s Business Centers; SCORE; and Veterans Business Outreach Center’s from declining to provide services to otherwise eligible small businesses solely because the business is a cannabis-related small business or service provider.

“Starting a small business is never easy, so we need to ensure entrepreneurs have access to the resources necessary to succeed, no matter the industry,” said Rep. Golden. “Continuing to turn some Maine small business owners away from crucial SBA programs and resources holds our economy back and keeps those businesses from creating jobs. My bill would address this problem by helping small business owners directly or indirectly associated with the cannabis industry get their small businesses off the ground and grow.”

Rep. Evans, who serves as Vice Chair of the Committee, introduced H.R. 3544, the Homegrown Act of 2019, a bill that would establish an SBA grant program to provide state and local governments with funding to help small businesses navigate cannabis licensing and employment with a focus on communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.

Congressman Evans said, “My bill would act as a poverty-buster and help homegrown small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. We need to make sure that the booming legal cannabis industry does not become consolidated in the hands of a few big companies. My bill would help small businesses to participate in this industry and knock down barriers to jobs and entrepreneurship for people most adversely impacted by the war on cannabis, which has been especially harsh for people of color.”

Additionally, H.R. 3540 (Velazquez) and H.R. HR 3544 (Evans) would remove cannabis from the Schedule of Controlled Substances, effectively decriminalizing the substance.

On June 19th, the Committee held a hearing on small businesses in the cannabis industry. More information can be found here.


SOURCE: Committee on Small Business

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