Panel entitled: Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry
Today, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing entitled Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry to discuss the economic and employment opportunities in the emerging legal cannabis industry and the challenges that federal prohibition and criminalization pose in regards to the Small Business Administration.
Currently, the SBA is prohibited from providing support, guidance, or microloans to small businesses in the cannabis industry, unlike every other sector of the economy.
NORML Political Director Justin Strekal released the following statement:
“In order to provide for inclusiveness within the legal industry, federal policy should strive to reduce roadblocks for qualified entrepreneurs in order to encourage participation from formerly disenfranchised populations,”
“Those enterprising individuals who would benefit most from the critical resources that the Small Business Administration must not be discriminated against in their quest to be job creators around the country.”
“It is for these reasons and more, NORML asks the House Committee on Small Business to advance legislation that would allow the Small Business Administration to engage with entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
NORML additionally submitted testimony to the Committee that can be viewed here.
According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. That total is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrests for the commission of violent crimes (518,617) in 2017. Of those arrested for marijuana crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses, a slight increase over the previous year’s annual totals. Total marijuana arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade.
Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional thirteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.
Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 2018 national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.
Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2018 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.
To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.
Specifically, a 2019 report estimates that over 211,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.