Cannabis industry turns to Congress for economic relief

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Any federal financial assistance because of the coronavirus should include cannabis companies

The outbreak of the coronavirus has taken most countries by surprise, and US authorities are still trying to reach a consensus on the necessary solutions to help Americans with financial struggles. It doesn’t matter which relief program gets the final approval from Congress; the fact is that none of the marijuana businesses are eligible to apply for any of these measures to relieve emergency needs due to its federally illegal status. A coalition of marijuana industry trade groups is now imploring federal lawmakers not to leave out an industry that provides jobs to hundreds of thousands of people in states where cannabis is legal.

It was estimated that nearly 240,000 people are employed in the cannabis industry, but that doesn’t weigh in on the fact that marijuana continues to be illegal on a federal level, and this cuts businesses off from all government benefits on the country level. This coalition group sent a letter to the House and Senate last Friday so that the government ensures that the state-legal cannabis business can qualify for assistance. “Our members follow strict regulations, create jobs, generate billions of dollars in tax revenue—including federal corporate tax revenue—and act as good corporate citizens,” the groups said. “Yet it appears as if these businesses will not be eligible for the same loans available to other businesses in this country at risk due to the global pandemic.”

Another announcement was made by the cannabis nonprofit group NORML in a blog post to let people know the organization is reaching out to allies in the Capitol Hill so “discriminatory practices do not apply to those in the industry seeking unemployment benefits [for cannabis workers] during these uncertain times.” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal added in the statement, “Given the tremendous amount of uncertainty in the broader economy, the hundreds of thousands of American workers who are employed by the state-legal marijuana industry must be respected and protected by the emergency actions being taken by elected officials.”