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Expanding the Paycheck Protection Program to All Cannabis Businesses

Expanding the Paycheck Protection Program to All Cannabis Businesses

Earlier this week, MassRoots obtained a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), which has been critical to ensuring our employees are paid their regular salaries so they, in turn, have the money they need to support their families, cover medical bills, and pay rent. We believe that all cannabis-related businesses, both plant-touching and ancillary, should be able to obtain PPP loans in order to support the hundreds of thousands of employees that comprise the regulated cannabis industry.

Paycheck Protection Program Equality

We’re asking our supporters, both individuals and businesses, to take the following steps to raise awareness and help cannabis businesses obtain equal access to PPP funding:

  1. Tweet the reasons you support #PPPEquality to @realDonaldTrump, @PressSec and your Senators and Congressmen.
  2. Email the White House and President Trump’s campaign in support of #PPPEquality at [email protected] and [email protected].
  3. Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and your Senators and Congressmen in support of equal access to PPP funding.
  4. If you’re employed in the cannabis industry, please record a video testimonial on how PPP funding would impact your life. You can submit it here or Tweet it, tagging @realDonaldTrump, your Senators and Representatives, and using #PPPEquality. 
  5. Post on Instagram, tagging the White House and your representatives, using #PPPEquality on the reasons why you support cannabis businesses having equal access to PPP loans.

Why is structural reform necessary?

When the U.S. federal government signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law on March 27, 2020, one of the measures included in the bill was the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP is designed to help small businesses and their employees survive during the stay-at-home orders and trying times of the pandemic, which is affecting businesses from all markets.

The PPP website describes the initiative as: 

“An SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis,” and “a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.”

While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, under the Controlled Substances Act, and the new law denies money from the CARES Act to businesses that are federally illegal, these businesses are not operating illegally at the state level. They are tightly regulated by the individual states.

Law-abiding, regulated cannabis businesses, whether plant touching or ancillary, and their employees should be granted the same access to government assistance as any other legally-operating business. 

Now is the time to tell the U.S. government that you think the Paycheck Protection Program should be expanded to include cannabis businesses. Stand up for #PPPEquality with us and all of the other small businesses that make-up the regulated cannabis industry in the United States.

State Financial Regulators Push Congress To Fix Marijuana Banking Problems

State Financial Regulators Push Congress To Fix Marijuana Banking Problems

A coalition of the top financial regulators in 13 states is demanding congressional action to protect banks that serve marijuana businesses.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders late last week, the regulators stressed that conflicting state and federal cannabis laws have inhibited economic growth, created confusion among state banks and credit unions and jeopardized public safety.

“It is incumbent on Congress to resolve the conflict between state cannabis programs and federal statutes that effectively create unnecessary risk for banks seeking to operate in this space without the looming threat of civil actions, forfeiture of assets, reputational risk, and criminal penalties,” the regulators wrote.

“While Congress has taken some action, such as the Rohrabacher amendment prohibiting federal funds being used to inhibit state medicinal marijuana programs, this has been an impermanent approach that requires a permanent resolution.”

Finance officials from Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington State signed the letter.

One of the factors that prompted the letter was Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision earlier this year to rescind the Obama-era “Cole memo,” which offered some enforcement guidelines for federal prosecutors when it comes to marijuana laws. Rescinding the guidance led to “uncertainty about banks’ ability to serve this industry without running afoul of federal statutes,” the regulators wrote.

The letter also recognized that this coalition is not alone in its demand for clarity around banking and cannabis policy.

In June, a bipartisan group of 12 governors called on lawmakers to pass the STATES Act, a bill that amends the Controlled Substances Act to create an exemption for state-legal marijuana activity. That bill would effectively protect banks dealing with cannabis businesses.

“Our states have acted with deliberation and care to implement programs through thoughtful and comprehensive legislation and regulations,” the governors wrote. “Our citizens have spoken, we are responding. We ask that Congress recognize and respect our states’ efforts by supporting and passing the STATES Act.”

Confusion in the finance industry over marijuana policy appears to be coming to a head in the United States. As federally backed banking institutions continue to reject clients who deal in the marijuana industry, more businesses are turning to a handful of institutions that are willing to serve cannabis growers, processors and retailers—but the regulators said that’s only a temporary solution.

One example of the consequence of state and federal policy conflicts was recently reported by Marijuana Moment. A candidate running for a Florida agricultural commission seat was told that her Wells Fargo account would be closed after the bank discovered donations from “lobbyists from the medical marijuana industry.”

“A majority of states now have medical marijuana programs and it has become increasingly necessary to craft policy to respond to emerging challenges in this rapidly growing industry,” the new letter from financial regulators concludes. “We must work together to look for solutions rather than avoiding this challenge and ignoring the new policy landscape.”

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

State Financial Regulators Push Congress To Fix Marijuana Banking Problems

South By Southwest Fans Choose From Dozens Of Marijuana-Themed Panels For 2019

South By Southwest Fans Choose From Dozens Of Marijuana-Themed Panels For 2019

No longer just something smuggled past security on the way in, festival organizers are now actively trying to cash in on growing cultural (and perhaps financial) interest in marijuana.

In Austin, that liberal refuge surrounded by the rest of Texas, the industry will be officially in attendance for the second year in a row at South By Southwest 2019.

Voting is currently open for choosing panels at next year’s bacchanal of tech, art and industry. Tracks for next year range from blockchain and cryptocurrency to virtual and augmented reality.

And right now, the SXSW Cannabusiness track has 62 submitted panels to vote on, with such topics as:

Cannabis Research Shackled by Politics Since 1968, organized by noted marijuana researcher Dr. Sue Sisley, will focus on “the abuses of the DEA / NIDA cannabis monopoly.”

Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Women, Weed, and Tech will discuss the opportunity for women to lead, and launch companies in, the cross section of marijuana and technology.

Legal Cannabis & Black Male Entrepreneurship lays out the case for why “Black men should be an integral part of the industry to rectify the damage from the drug war.”

When Can We All Get High Together? (Legally) features Denver mayoral candidate and cannabis entrepreneur Kayvan Khalatbari and Vicente-Sederberg partner Josh Kappel talking about social use.

There’s also a few about repairing the harms caused by the war on drugs, several Texas-specific panels and one more focused on women. There’s even Parenting and Cannabis, an expanding issue as more marijuana reform takes place and social attitudes shift. The large majority of proposals, as to be expected, are about starting and running cannabis businesses.

In addition to the 62 categorized under the Cannabusiness track, several other proposed panels in other tracks seem to focus at least partially on marijuana issues. One such panel in the Brands & Marketing track, is about cannabis-based beauty products. Another categorized under Food highlights the flavors and effects of terpenes. And one under Design focuses on the “changing aesthetics of pot.”

At this year’s SXSW event, in March, there were two panels on cannabis tech, one on the Future of Cannabis, a cannabis health meet up and a panel on the role of marijuana in pro sports led by former NFL player Eben Britton. (Noticeably absent? A social-justice-focused topic.) But considering the 62 panel topics submitted for next year, it seems likely there will be more expansive marijuana discourse at the 2019 event.

The number of contenders to talk pot at next year’s SXSW isn’t the only sign of rising interest in formal marijuana programming at prominent cultural events. Last weekend in San Francisco, Outside Lands debuted Grass Lands, a “curated cannabis experience” at the 10-year-old music fest in Golden Gate Park. They’re “the first major U.S. music festival” to do so, according to an announcement by organizers.

For all its popularity, though, the 2019 SXSW cannabiz track doesn’t have nearly as many entries as, say, Intelligent Future (374) or Tech Industry and Expertise (251). But it has considerably more than Touring & Live Experience (25) or Esports Industry (28). Nearly tied is Coding and Development with 61 options.

Through the Community Voting system, participants make a profile so they can cast votes on which panels they want to see next year. Public support only makes up 30 percent of the total programming decision, however, with input from SXSW Staff and the Advisory Board making up the other 30 percent and 40 percent respectively.

Voting on SXSW 2019 panels is open until August 30. SXSW descends on Austin March 8 – 17, 2019.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

South By Southwest Fans Choose From Dozens Of Marijuana-Themed Panels For 2019

Photo by gbarkz on Unsplash

Marijuana Industry Not Eligible For Business Loans, Trump Administration Says

Marijuana Industry Not Eligible For Business Loans, Trump Administration Says

The U.S. Small Business Administration issued guidance earlier this month clarifying that marijuana businesses — and even some firms that don’t touch the plant but serve those in the cannabis industry — cannot receive aid in the form of federally backed loans.

“Because federal law prohibits the distribution and sale of marijuana, financial transactions involving a marijuana-related business would generally involve funds derived from illegal activity,” the new memo says. “Therefore, businesses that derive revenue from marijuana-related activities or that support the end-use of marijuana may be ineligible for SBA financial assistance.”

The new document details the type of marijuana-related businesses that it says are “ineligible” to participate in the agency’s loan programs:

(a) “Direct Marijuana Business” — a business that grows, produces, processes, distributes, or sells marijuana or marijuana products, edibles, or derivatives, regardless of the amount of such activity. This applies to personal use and medical use even if the business is legal under local or state law where the applicant business is or will be located.

(b) “Indirect Marijuana Business” — a business that derived any of its gross revenue for the previous year (or, if a start-up, projects to derive any of its gross revenue for the next year) from sales to Direct Marijuana Businesses of products or services that could reasonably be determined to support the use, growth, enhancement or other development of marijuana. Examples include businesses that provide testing services, or sell grow lights or hydroponic equipment, to one or more Direct Marijuana Businesses. In addition, businesses that sell smoking devices, pipes, bongs, inhalants, or other products that may be used in connection with marijuana are ineligible if the products are primarily intended or designed for such use or if the business markets the products for such use.

(c) Hemp-Related Business” — a business that grows, produces, processes, distributes or sells products purportedly made from “hemp” is ineligible unless the business can demonstrate that its business activities and products are legal under federal and state law. Examples of legal hemp products include paper, clothing and rope.

The new memo, issued by SBA Administrator Linda E. McMahon, is intended to provide clarification on a longer document laying out rules for loan programs that SBA issued earlier this year.

The policy document also specifies that SBA borrowers can’t rent office space to marijuana-related businesses.

“For consistency with the changes identified above regarding marijuana-related businesses, Lenders are advised that, during the life of the SBA-guaranteed loan, a borrower may not lease space to the ineligible businesses described above because the collateral could be subject to seizure and because payments on the SBA loan would be derived from illegal activity,” McMahon wrote. “If a borrower does lease to an ineligible marijuana-related business, SBA District Counsel should be consulted to determine what action should be taken.”

 See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

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