Marijuana dispensaries deemed 'essential' but ineligible for federal stimulus

Why marijuana dispensaries are deemed "essential," but excluded from PPP.

Beatrice Peterson | ABC News| April 13, 2020

As grocery stores and pharmacies struggled to keep toilet paper and hand sanitizer on the shelves in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, many cannabis dispensaries saw inventories sharply decline as customers feared those businesses would be deemed nonessential.

But when states and local governments began issuing stay-at-home directives, most communities that allow the sale of medical marijuana chose to include dispensaries alongside supermarkets and drugstores on lists of businesses allowed to remain open.

But because marijuana sales are still illegal under federal law, businesses operating under state statutes are barred from receiving federal assistance, including aid for small businesses in the massive $2 trillion economic recovery package signed into law last week.

The CARES Act includes $350 billion for the Small Business Administration to provide forgivable loans to companies with 500 or fewer employees, and the Trump administration is now asking Congress for an additional $250 billion.

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