With cannabis legalization afoot across many states in the U.S., small businesses are struggling to come to terms with the finer details of cannabis licensing. A brand new trio of cannabis bills looks set to change the reality on the ground once and for all.
When Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democratic representative from Pennsylvania, presented his bill to Congress, he was hopeful it would pass quickly and without issues. The idea from Rep. Evans is all about helping small cannabis businesses to navigate the tricky path of cannabis licensing. What did you expect after more than 70 years of the oppressive prohibition of a plant that grows wild?
To say that everyone is in a pickle when it comes to the legalization of cannabis is the understatement of the century. It looks like it will take as many decades of legalization as there were of prohibition for people to come to terms with cannabis. Until then, the new bill is one step in the right direction.
The bill, entitled the Homegrown Act of 2019, would, in turn, see the creation of a Small Business Association grant program. This program is slated to offer state and local governments money that will be earmarked for small businesses who are already or want to get involved in the cannabis industry.
In a press release from Rep. Evans, he said:
My bill would act as a poverty-buster and help homegrown small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. We need to make sure that the booming legal cannabis industry does not become consolidated in the hands of a few big companies, My bill would help small businesses to participate in this industry and knock down barriers to jobs and entrepreneurship for people most adversely impacted by the war on cannabis, which has been especially harsh for people of color.
The new bill has already been sent to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as to the Committees on the Judiciary, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Small Business.
Another Democrat, New York’s Nydia Velázquez and Maine Democrat Jared Golden, also introduced a bill that would see more benefits for those working within the rapidly ballooning cannabis industry. The main advantages of the new legislation will come in the form of loans from the Small Business Administration.
As Velázquez said about the bill:
As our society continues to move the needle on this issue, we must recognize that legal cannabis businesses are often small businesses that fuel local economies and create new jobs. That is why I am pleased to introduce legislation to extend affordable lending options to small businesses that operate in the cannabis space, while simultaneously recognizing the structural disadvantages facing entrepreneurs from communities of color.
In more detail, the act which is officially called H.R. 3540, the Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act of 2019, includes several great benefits for small cannabis business owners. Not only will they become eligible for SBA-backed loans, but they will also receive disaster assistance. The main bulk of the programs are intended for borrowers who have issues getting loans; a problem faced by many small businesses.
The third bill, proposed by Maine Democrat Jared Golden, called H.R. 3543, the Ensuring Access to Counseling and Training Programs for All Small Business Act of 2019, would prohibit SBA resource partners from denying small businesses access to their services. This would permanently stop lenders and other commercial enterprises from discriminating against cannabis business entrepreneurs.
As Golden said about his bill in a press release:
Starting a small business is never easy, so we need to ensure entrepreneurs have access to the resources necessary to succeed, no matter the industry. Continuing to turn some Maine small business owners away from crucial SBA programs and resources holds our economy back and keeps those businesses from creating jobs. My bill would address this problem by helping small business owners directly or indirectly associated with the cannabis industry get their small businesses off the ground and grow.
The trio of new bills is a massive three steps in the right direction when it comes to evening the playing field for those in the cannabis and CBD industry. It remains to be seen how long it will take for the bills to be rolled out and the positive effects felt by small business owners.
Traditionally, these things take time and patience, and there’s no avoiding that. As the world moves to a new era of cannabis legalization, many are hopeful that discrimination against cannabis users and business people alike will end. Numerous bills are currently being introduced to Congress by pro-cannabis lawmakers from different states.
The road is long, and the workload is plenty, but the drive to the right thing for the cannabis industry and those involved in it is very much on a path to success.