Bill Extending SBA Lending to Small Cannabis Businesses Reintroduced by Democrats

(SBA) programs to small firms operating in the legal cannabis sector.

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Tuesday, House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA), and Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) reintroduced legislation to open several Small Business Administration (SBA) programs to small firms operating in the legal cannabis sector.

Chairwoman Velázquez introduced The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act of 2021, giving direct or indirect cannabis businesses the ability to apply for SBA-backed loans.

The bill would give small firms in the cannabis industry access to the 7(a) loan guaranty program, disaster assistance, the Microloan program, the Small Business Investment Company program, and the 504 loan program.

Since SBA established many of these programs to benefit underserved businesses, Velázquez’s bill would help entrepreneurs disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs participate in the burgeoning legal cannabis industry. The bill also intends to increase equity in the cannabis sector by ensuring diverse businesses have access to affordable capital and are better able to finance the start-up, operation, and eventual expansion of their small business.

“The legal cannabis sector has a high proportion of small firms. With more and more states pursuing legalization, including my home state of New York, there are a growing number of legitimate small businesses that are excluded from critical SBA programs,” said Chairwoman Velázquez. “This legislation will spark growth by extending affordable capital to small firms in the cannabis space. Simultaneously, the bill acknowledges the structural disadvantages facing entrepreneurs of color and seeks to level the playing field.

Rep. Evans introduced H.R. 2649, the Homegrown Act of 2021, a bill that would establish an SBA grant program to provide state and local governments with funding to help small businesses navigate cannabis licensing and employment with a focus on communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.

“My bill would act as a poverty-buster and help homegrown small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy and our neighborhoods. We need to make sure that the booming legal cannabis industry does not become consolidated in the hands of a few big companies,” said Rep. Evans. “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.”

Rep. Golden, who serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Underserved, Agricultural, and Rural Business Development, introduced H.R. 2652, the Ensuring Access to Counseling and Training Programs for All Small Business Act of 2021. The bill would prohibit SBA resource partners from denying otherwise qualified small businesses their services solely because they operate in the cannabis sector. The bill would help cannabis-related small companies and service providers access resources from Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, SCORE, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers.

“Our continued economic recovery depends on the health of American small businesses of all kinds. Especially in this environment, no Maine small business owner should be turned away from crucial SBA programs that could help them create jobs and lift up the economy,” said Rep. Golden. “My bill would help address this problem by providing small business owners directly or indirectly associated with the cannabis industry with access to the services and resources they need to get their small businesses off the ground and grow.”

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