Canada’s COVID-19 olive branch for cannabis sector comes with a caveat

Cannabis Industry Eligible For COVID-19 Emergency Funding

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has made the country’s cannabis industry eligible for COVID-19 emergency funding, an about-face that might provide financial relief to some established Canadian marijuana businesses with access to financial institutions.

Cannabis businesses were previously excluded from the COVID-19 lending offered by the BDC, a federally owned and operated entrepreneurial bank, sparking appeals for help from the regulated marijuana industry.

Because of the vast economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BDC now says cannabis businesses have been included in the expanded scope of eligibility.

Those programs are:

The Canada Emergency Business Account

The Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) Loan and Guarantee program.

The Canada Emergency Business Account program offers loans of up to CA$40,000 ($28,348) to small businesses to cover operating costs. Those loans are interest-free for the first year.

The SME Loan and Guarantee program lets eligible companies obtain up to 6.25 million Canadian dollars ($4.5 million) in incremental credit amounts; 80% would be provided by the BDC and the remainder by a financial institution.

Those loans have a 10-year repayment period at commercial interest rates, according to BDC.

Bank access

Both programs are delivered through financial institutions, including banks and credit unions.

But access to a financial institution could pose a problem for many marijuana businesses, said Patrick Moher, a partner at Canadian cannabis public relations agency Alan Aldous Communications, which launched a campaign calling on BDC to extend its emergency programs to the cannabis sector.

Entrepreneurs have long said a lack of banking access has stymied legal marijuana businesses.

Read the full article at MarijuanaBusinessDaily

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