Marijuana Dispensaries Excluded From New York State’s Coronavirus Loan Program
Not only are marijuana businesses excluded from federal coronavirus relief funds, but medical cannabis dispensaries in New York are also ineligible for a COVID-19 loan program that the state is offering.
Under the New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF), marijuana shops are specifically excluded, alongside payday loan providers, pawn shops, strip clubs, liquor stores, and astrologers.
This exclusion comes despite the fact that New York State has deemed cannabis businesses as essential services that can continue to operate during the pandemic.
“Given that cannabis businesses are ineligible for federal relief, it is unconscionable for the State of New York to deny them access to state-based relief efforts,” Morgan Fox, media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association said, “These businesses have been going above and beyond to provide continuous healthcare, protect jobs, and generate revenue for the state under terrible conditions just like other essential services.”
Katie Neer, chair of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association and director of government relations for Acreage Holdings said, “The reality is that New York’s medical cannabis program, established by the governor and Legislature in 2014, is one of the most restrictive in the nation,” she said. “As a result, the industry was struggling prior to the pandemic, even as it was deemed ‘essential’ and continues to serve patients throughout the crisis.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was recently asked why the state hasn’t legalized cannabis for adult use as a means to generate much-needed tax revenue during the pandemic. He said it’s a policy change he expects will happen, but it’s a “complicated issue and it has to be done in a comprehensive way.”