Group of Senators Say Cannabis Businesses Should Be Allowed to Access SBA Loans

U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) has led a group of her colleagues to submit a letter to a Senate subcommittee requesting that cannabis businesses gain access to Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

The letter, dated June 22, is addressed to Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Cory Booker, (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) cosigned the letter, which asks that businesses legally operating in states with regulated cannabis markets receive access to the 7(a) Loan Guarantee Program, Disaster Assistance Program, Microloan Program and 504/Certified Development Company Loan Program.

Rosen and her colleagues ask the Senate Appropriations Committee to include language in the 2022 Financial Services and General Government Related Agencies Appropriations Bill that would grant cannabis businesses access to these SBA loans, which remain off limits to the cannabis industry.

“In 2020, states collected an estimated $3 billion in tax revenue from cannabis sales,” the senators wrote. “However, SBA’s current policy excludes small businesses with ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ products or services that aid the use, growth, enhancement, or other development of cannabis from SBA-backed financing. Consequently, small businesses in states with some form of legal cannabis must choose between remaining eligible for SBA programs and participating in or doing business with a rapidly-growing and legal industry.”

The letter goes on to say that “SBA programs would be especially helpful to cannabis small businesses because they would fill gaps left by the private sector and help mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to these SBA programs could ensure that small businesses—including those led by our minority, , and veteran entrepreneurs—support job creation and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This is not the first time that Rosen and other lawmakers have asked that the SBA extend economic assistance to the cannabis industry. In March 2020, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sens. Michael Bennett (D-CO), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined Markey, Menendez, Merkley, Sanders, Wyden, Booker and Rosen in sending a letter to leadership urging—unsuccessfully—that lawmakers include language in last year’s appropriations bill to prohibit the SBA from denying loan applications from state-licensed cannabis businesses.

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