Cannabis companies face ‘economic stigmatization’

Published on March 26, 2020 by oz. staff

Arguing they face “economic stigmatization,” cannabis companies are calling on the federal government for immediate aid in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are asking that this industry, which has added a cumulative total of $8 billion to the Canadian GDP over the course of the last year, specifically and explicitly be included in all economic stimulus measures and provided the support that is being offered to every other Canadian business at this time,” says the letter signed by dozens of business leaders in the sector.

It’s addressed to two high-profile ministers: Minister of Finance William Morneau and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains.

“Canada’s cannabis industry has weathered several shocks in the past six months, including the loss of over 2,000 well-paying jobs in the sector. Our access to capital, including credit, is challenging. COVID-19

has added another significant impact, both with our suppliers and our workforce.”

The federal government has been rolling out support for small, medium and large Canadian businesses.

Those within the regulated cannabis industry want to be included. They’ve identified two ways to help:

  • Equal and fair access to significant supports for all cannabis companies working to keep employees employed, including access to wage subsidies as announced on March 18, 2020 by the Prime Minister and Finance Minister. The announcement made March 18 is only applicable to small businesses but a number of stakeholders across the industry employ a greater number than would qualify under the definition of small business;
  • Equal and fair access to funding through federal agencies, EDC or BDC as other industries have for credit instruments. Presently, for example, BDC has indicated that the regulated cannabis sector cannot access the $10B in stimulus funding, part of which is available through that crown corporation.

“We are not asking for special treatment, but rather equitable treatment,” says the letter. “Regulated cannabis companies face economic stigmatization despite serving the legal, federally regulated system.”

Read the letter here.