Cannabis Operators Excluded from SBA’s Disaster Assistance During COVID-19 Pandemic

Low-interest loans up to $2 million offered by the Small Business Administration amidst the coronavirus outbreak will not extend to state-legal cannabis businesses.

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March 18, 2020

On March 11, President Trump instructed the Small Business Administration (SBA) to allot $50 billion in aid to small businesses via low-interest loans during the historic coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, which would help small businesses stay afloat with current expenses, including payroll.

While the total assistance SBA will offer in these low-interest loans is still unknown (as of press time, the White House and Congress are still working to pass a nationwide stimulus package bill that could potentially top $1 trillion), one thing is certain: Cannabis businesses will not be offered relief by SBA.

“Because federal law prohibits the sale and distribution of cannabis, the SBA does not provide financial assistance to businesses that are illegal under federal law,” Carol Chastang, SBA public affairs specialist, told Cannabis Business Times. “Businesses that aren’t eligible include marijuana growers and dispensers, businesses that sell cannabis products, etc., even if the business is legal under local or state law.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s cannabis businesses are facing the same type of exclusions.

Tantalus Labs CEO Dan Sutton shared with Cannabis Business Times that yesterday he was informed the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)—which hatched a plan with Export Development Canada (EDC) to increase loans issued on commercial terms by $10 billion in the wake of COVID-19—was not authorized to do business with cannabis companies.