Legislation aims to expand SBA loans for social equity in the pot industry

By: - November 22, 2022 3:11 pm
All hail, or inhale, as the case may be

People of color and women are still underrepresented in the cannabis industry. (Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash)

The Fair Access for Cannabis Small Business Act was introduced by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen would expand programs and loans by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to the cannabis industry operating in states where it is legalized. 

“The unfair barriers to basic federal support and resources have hurt our state’s legally-operating cannabis small businesses,” Rosen said in a statement. “This legislation will level the playing field so that small cannabis businesses – including those owned by people of color, women, and veterans– have access to the same federal resources and loans that other legal businesses are entitled to.”

The legal cannabis industry is notorious for excluding the people most negatively affected by America’s war on drugs, particularly Black Americans and women. 

Even now, Black Americans are more than three times more likely to be arrested for pot-related offenses compared to white Americans nationally. In states that have legalized recreational use, where cannabis arrests have dipped, Black Americans are still about twice as likely to be arrested for cannabis-related offenses compared to their white neighbors, according to a 2020 report from the ACLU.

More than 62% of women in federal prisons are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses. 

But people of color and women are still underrepresented in the cannabis industry. 

Nationally, women own only 22.2% of cannabis companies, and racial minorities only 15.4%, according to the fourth annual report of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Cannabis Industry by MJBizDaily. Nonwhite ownership decreased from this year to 15.4% from 20.7% in 2021, according to the report. 

Few states address social equities in the industry. 

Of the 39 states with legal cannabis programs, only 38% have created social equity programs, and Nevada is not one of them, according to the report.  

“Lack of access to capital and banking services remain the greatest barriers to entry into the cannabis industry,” said Layke Martin, the executive director of the Nevada Cannabis Association, in the statement from Rosen’s office. 

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Camalot Todd
Camalot Todd

An award-winning, investigative and enterprise reporter, Camalot Todd has over seven years experience in print, digital, radio and TV journalism. She covered mental and behavioral health in New York for Spectrum News 1 Buffalo through the national service program, Report For America, where she won the Mental Health Advocates of WNY Advocacy Award in 2020 for her coverage on mental health stigma. She also served as an inaugural member of the Report For America Corps Advisory Board Member, 2021-2022. Previously, she reported on community issues in Las Vegas, including a long-term project on underage sex trafficking, for the Las Vegas Sun and its sister publication, Las Vegas Weekly. For the Sun, she wrote a pathbreaking investigative piece called, “Children on the Cusp: The transition from foster care to adulthood is leaving some behind.” The piece won the Nevada Press Association best investigative story of the year and named Camalot the Best Community Reporter of 2017. She also worked as a reporter for KUNV radio and is a graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Camalot was selected for National Press Foundation Opioid and Addiction Fellow 2021 and led the Syracuse Press Club's Journalism Lab as an educator from 2021-2022.