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