Rep. Earl Blumenauer Criticizes Feds for Blocking Loans to Marijuana Businesses
Blumenauer, a longtime champion of legal cannabis, says that the Small Business Administration’s new policy would “wreak havoc” on huge sectors of the economy.
Published on May 8, 2018

Photo via USDA

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) isn’t happy with new anti-cannabis guidance from the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). In a recent letter addressed to SBA head Linda McMahon, Rep. Blumenauer decried a new policy that restricts federal loans to businesses working within or with clients in the legal marijuana industry, calling on the agency to revoke the new rule immediately.

As recounted by Green Market Report, Rep. Blumenauer’s letter describes the vast array of small businesses that have now lost an important avenue for financing, as the new SBA policy restricts not only loans to legal cannabis and hemp businesses, but also any company that even interacts with America’s green rush, including real estate firms, contractors, and more.

“SBA’s new guidance will mean that countless small businesses including architecture firms, accountants, garden supply businesses, and construction companies across the country will be put at a competitive disadvantage if just one of their clients or customers are part of the burgeoning cannabis industry — an industry that was in many states created by voter ballot initiatives,” wrote Blumenauer in his letter. “While I believe that cannabis industry businesses should be treated the same as all other businesses, at the very least, ancillary businesses should not be penalized for supporting a business that is legal in their state.”

Enacted at the beginning of April, the new SBA policy excludes any business that has received money from the cannabis industry from accessing the agency’s hundreds of millions of dollars in annual small business loans.

While President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have both made recent concessions about states’ right to enact cannabis reform and the viability of medical marijuana, the new SBA policy instead continues the federal government’s long-held prohibitionist stance on pot. For Blumenauer, the guidelines are a significant step backwards as the rest of the country moves ahead with marijuana reform.

“The cannabis industry is already a core part of the economy in Oregon and dozens of other states that this rule would be impossible to implement and wreak havoc across multiple sectors of the economy,” Rep. Blumenauer wrote. “For example, would just one order from a cannabis business for soil preclude a locally owned garden center from receiving federal government loan support in the future?”

SBA officials have not publicly announced what lead to their shift in policy towards canna-businesses, or how closely the agency will monitor ancillary businesses like garden supply stores and contractors that have dealings with legal weed companies. If you ask Rep. Blumenauer, though, there’s no time to wait and see. Before signing his John Hancock at the bottom of the letter to McMahon, Blumenauer challenged the SBA to rewrite the new policy straightaway and open up financial opportunities to ganjapreneurs just like other small businesses.

“I call upon you to repeal this guidance immediately to prevent further economic harm and to provide certainty for the thousands of state-legal cannabis businesses and the companies they do business with.”

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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