Cannabis Business Loan Bill OK, Says Lawmaker, But Reopening Better | Archives
BOSTON – It would be a “fucking shame” if, instead of allowing marijuana companies to resume operations in Massachusetts, the state were to establish a forgivable loan fund for an industry that does not qualify for the Federal aid, the Senate Cannabis Policy Committee Chairman said Tuesday.
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz testified Tuesday morning in support of a bill that would create a Massachusetts paycheck protection program for businesses not eligible for the federal program, which provides small business loans that can be canceled and converted into subsidies if a company maintains its payroll.
Although the Jamaica Plain Democrat supports the “spirit” of the bill, Chang-Diaz said his preferred method of helping small cannabis businesses was for Governor Charlie Baker to allow non-medical marijuana businesses to reopen.
“I think it would be a real shame, honestly, if we were to end up going there as a state, because that would be a self-inflicted injury. The adult-use recreational marijuana industry is one that… stands at the top. ready to meet the needs of consumers in a safe manner, on an equal basis, or even under tighter public health constraints, than their peers in the alcohol and restaurant industry, ”Chang-Diaz said in a statement. Virtual hearing of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business.
“It is well within our reach as a Commonwealth to allow these retailers to reopen by appointment only, on a curbside pick-up basis, serving Massachusetts ID card holders only.” , she said.
Since Baker ordered all non-essential businesses shut down from March 24, only patients registered in the state’s medical marijuana program have been able to buy marijuana legally. The governor has resisted calls to follow the lead of other states and allow recreational operations – not just sales, but anything that goes into the production of marijuana and marijuana products – to be resumed as essential service. He expressed concern about out-of-state consumers traveling to Massachusetts.
“To use an art term, I just think these are bananas that we are not allowing these retailers to reopen in a safe, controlled manner that can meet the increased needs of the Commonwealth in this time of emergency.” , Chang-Diaz said.
Asked Tuesday afternoon whether non-medical marijuana businesses would be allowed to reopen with restrictions such as limiting sales to Massachusetts residents or requiring customers to make appointments at the ahead of time, Baker said he would leave that sort of decision to the reopening advisory group Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito is leading.
“I think these people will come to the advisory board soon,” he said.
Chuck Saba, the chief of beWell Organic Medicine, described to the committee what it is like to be able to contribute to state and federal government through taxes, but to be denied. help when his business is affected by the pandemic.
“Even though we are a legal LLC legally producing cannabis in Massachusetts, paying state and federal taxes with a legal and valid payroll company, beWell and other legal cannabis facilities do not have access to no federal emergency aid just because of the nature of our business, “he said.” We’re legal, but we’re not treated like other legal businesses. This makes us and our team members extremely vulnerable. “
The bill tabled by Methuen Senator Diana DiZoglio is not specific to the cannabis industry, but is intended to provide a source of assistance to many Massachusetts companies that have been denied federal funding.
“It’s absolutely something that focuses on all of the small businesses that might struggle to get these benefits from the federal government,” said DiZoglio, who chaired Tuesday’s virtual hearing. “The state-level P3 would be something that is supposed to be of use to all small businesses that are not eligible for federal benefits for whatever reason.”
Saba and other marijuana business operators have said they are small businesses like many that can access federal assistance. Ellen Rosenfeld, President of CommCan, detailed for the committee what payments her company makes to its host communities – Millis, Southborough and Medway – and what it pays to the state and federal governments in taxes and costs.
Rosenfeld said his company in 2019 donated $ 500,000 to the federal government, $ 420,000 to the state and $ 430,000 to its host cities. If her business could get a PPP loan, it would be for around $ 400,000, she said.
“This is less than every entity – federal government, state and cities – received from CommCan in 2019. We cannot borrow money. We pay our employees more than minimum wage and we provide benefits. We implemented all the security protocols that were suggested, mandated and justified. We allowed our employees to self-quarantine for any reason. They told us they felt protected and expressed their gratitude for being employed during this time, “she said.” We will continue to do all of these things … but it would be a lot easier with a little help. “
Cannabis companies are just one category that are not eligible for federal assistance, but representatives from various other sectors testified in support of DiZoglio’s bill on Tuesday.
“The chamber of commerce, as 501 (c) (6), was not eligible for funding offered by the federal government,” said Mark Iannuccillo, vice president of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce. “The chamber has now found itself in a situation where we have collected around 10 percent of our dues, all of our events have come to a screeching halt and the future of our organization remains uncertain.”