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Congressmen Introduce Legislation to Open SBA Lending Programs to Cannabis Businesses

  • Members of the House Small Business Committee put forward three bills to ease rules on lending and other support for small businesses in the cannabis sector
  • Legislation would give cannabis business access to SBA loans and other support
  • Cannabis is fully legal in 16 states and legal for medicinal purposes in 44 states, but remains illegal at the federal level

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee as well as two congressmen on the committee have introduced bills to grant small businesses in the cannabis sector access to U.S. Small Business Administration loans and other resources.

Several businesses are ineligible for SBA loans under the agency’s current rules, including those “engaged in illegal activities.” Cannabis use has been fully legalized in 16 states and is legal for medicinal purposes in 44 states, but businesses in the sector are still barred from SBA resources since cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

States have increasingly been pursuing efforts to legalize recreational cannabis use, including a proposal to permit this use in Connecticut beginning next year. The bills put forward by the committee members seek to provide additional support to businesses in the emerging sector, with a particular focus on entrepreneurs and communities “disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs.”

Chairwoman Nydia M. Nydia M. Velázquez and Reps. Dwight Evans and Jared Golden introduced the following proposals:

  • The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act of 2021, which would give direct or indirect cannabis businesses the ability to apply for all SBA-backed loans
  • The Homegrown Act of 2021, establishing an SBA grant program to provide funding to state and local governments  to help small businesses navigate cannabis licensing and employment
  • The Ensuring Access to Counseling and Training Programs for All Small Business Act of 2021, prohibiting SBA resource partners from denying otherwise qualified small businesses their services solely because they operate in the cannabis sector and assisting with access to resources offered through SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, and other organizations

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