Cannabis, Coronavirus and Federal Disaster Assistance

Coronavirus has been great for cannabis sales. In most states with approved cannabis programs, both medical and adult use marijuana sales have been designated “essential services” by state and local governments. With this support, the supply chain has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic better than many industries. Still, the pandemic continues unabated and cannabis businesses are far from secure.

Over the past month, the federal government has attempted to throttle the sputtering economy with varying forms of stimulus. Some of the efforts have been undertaken by the Federal Reserve (slashing the federal funds rate; debt purchase commitments) and some by the Internal Revenue Service (pushing out deadlines). But Congress and the President have taken matters further. In this post, I’ll summarize the three “phases” of Congressional stimulus, and their implications for cannabis businesses.

Before diving in, it’s important to draw a bright line between forms of cannabis defined as “hemp” and “marijuana” under federal law. In the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was removed from the definition of “marijuana” under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Although heavily regulated, hemp is no longer controlled in the classic sense. For this reason, qualified hemp businesses should be entitled to the same stimulus relief

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