Congress has responded to the crisis with a series of spending bills, including the most recently signed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This massive stimulus package is a $2.2 trillion attempt to keep the US economy afloat while business has come to a virtual standstill.
But will the hemp and cannabis industries be able to cash in on the stimulus money?
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, the hemp industry is now federally legal. So, while the word “hemp” does not appear in the bill, legal hemp operators will be able to benefit from economic relief along with other farmers and small business owners.
Following the signing of the bill, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was quick to issue a statement giving assurance to farmers that help was on the way:
“At USDA we will deliver relief assistance to farmers and ranchers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdu
The United States Department of Agriculture stated,
The passage of the Coronavirus response legislation will provide much-needed relief to Americans across this country, especially workers and small-business owners who have been impacted by COVID-19.
This was clearly welcome news to the hemp industry, though some say the bill doesn’t go far enough to keep the hemp industry moving forward.
David Metzler, CEO of CBD Capitol Group published an open letter to Senator Mitch McConnell in the days before the signing of the bill, urging Congress to include legislation like:
- The SAFE Banking Act, which would make it easier for hemp operators to borrow money from banks.
- An IRS tax code change, which would allow people to use HSA/FSA accounts to buy CBD products.
- A change to supplement rules, allowing CBD to be sold over-the-counter for two years.
None of these provisions made it into the final bill, leaving many hemp industry entrepreneurs feeling that the stimulus bill will only go halfway to keeping the industry afloat.
But those operating in the cannabis industry are in an even worse position. While hemp farmers and small business owners will be able to apply for aid to help them survive the slump, the cannabis industry has been left out in the cold entirely.