March 20, 2020

Cannabis in the time of Coronavirus: Operators Excluded from Disaster Assistance and Michigan Advocates for Delivery

March 20, 2020
Government aid is not being extended to cannabis businesses while Michigan pushes for home delivery.

Low-interest loans being offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that offer up to $2 million in aid are not being extended to state-legal cannabis businesses.

Though Donald Trump instructed the SBA to allot up to $50 billion to help small businesses in the form of low-interest loans on March 11, most small companies in need have not received the assistance, according to public radio in New York.

While the total assistance the SBA will offer in these low-interest loans is still unknown, they could potentially exceed $1 trillion as the Congress continues to work out a stimulus package. However, one element of the plan has already been made clear: cannabis businesses are not included in the bail out nor any of the SBA relief programs.

“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.”

Canadian cannabis companies facing Coronavirus concerns

CEO of Tantalus Labs, Dan Sutton, told Cannabis Business Times that he was informed the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) was not authorized to do business with cannabis companies.

Meanwhile, US citizens seem to be increasingly turning to cannabis for not just prescribed medical purposes but to treat anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and to help with the general panic being exacerbated by the lack of federal leadership and integrity as the coronavirus pandemic grows exponentially in the U.S. and the world.

Michigan advocates for cannabis home delivery

Michigan is allowing curbside medical cannabis sales as state regulators rush to create easy access to MMJ amid social distancing, crackdowns on mass gatherings and sheltering in place orders.

Home delivery in Michigan is still not allowed.

Michigan’s Cannabis Industry Association sent a letter on March 18 to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requesting that cannabis be reclassified as an “essential element” by including designating “state licensed growers, processors, safety compliance facilities, secure transporters and provisioning centers essential businesses to ensure our industry is able to meet the needs of patients.”

The MICIA, which represents nearly 200 licensed marijuana businesses in Michigan, also called on Gov. Whitmer to allow physicians to see patients via telecommunications, a process normally not allowed under federal privacy laws.

Gov. Whitmer seems amenable to the suggestion.

In an executive order, the Michigan governor announced that all licensed dispensaries that sell either medicinal pot, recreational pot, or both, will be permitted to have curbside pickup as an available option to them.

Although, before dispensaries can start delivering pot to prospective customers, they will need to implement some best practices first.

“We just don’t want a bunch of cars running around streets trying to deliver cannabis all over the place. You have to track the driver, you have to make sure that people are of age, you have to check their ID, they have to carry money – so you have to be set up for that,” said one pot shop owner, Jerry Millen of Greenhouse.

More of this please. And thanks to the wisdom and foresight being shown by Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer.


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