US senator files bill to make cannabis businesses eligible for SBA loans

Democratic U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada recently introduced legislation that would make regulated cannabis businesses eligible for loans and other programs from the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). If passed, the Fair Access for Cannabis Small Businesses Act would help ensure that licensed cannabis businesses have access to the same benefits available to other legal businesses, including the SBA’s popular 7(a) loans, disaster loans, microloans, and the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program. The legislation also ensures that businesses in the regulated cannabis industry have access to the SBA’s resource partners, such as the SCORE business mentoring program, Veterans Business Outreach Centers, and Women’s Business Centers.

Rosen has been an outspoken advocate for allowing businesses in the legal cannabis industry access to banking services and resources offered by the SBA. Under current SBA regulations, businesses that provide “direct or indirect products or services that aid the use, growth, or enhancement of cannabis from accessing SBA loans and programs,” according to a statement from the senator’s office.

“The unfair barriers to basic federal support and resources have hurt our state’s legally-operating cannabis small businesses,” Rosen said on November 18. “This legislation will level the playing field so that cannabis small 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.”

Expanding opportunities for cannabis businesses
In 2021, Rosen highlighted the need for expanding access to SBA resources to small cannabis businesses operating legally under state law while questioning then-nominee for SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman, who was subsequently approved by the Senate. And earlier this year, she sent a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to include language preventing the SBA from excluding legally operated cannabis small businesses from its loan and entrepreneurship programs. Rosen also previously led a bipartisan letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leadership in December 2021, urging fellow lawmakers to keep provisions of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the fiscal 2022 National Defense Appropriations Act.

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