While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promotes hemp-based protective masks, businesses that sell CBD are being denied PPEs. What gives?
A federal program that provides personal protective equipment (PPE) to small businesses is being denied to businesses that sell CBD products.
Denver currently holds 4,500 PPE kits that include important protection for frontline workers, like face shields, disinfectants, surgical masks, thermometers, and hand sanitizer. But Denver-based headshop Meadowlark 64 can’t receive any of those kits because a federal grant doesn’t allow federal funds to help cannabis-related businesses.
Meadowlark doesn’t sell any THC products, but that doesn’t make a difference. Neither does the fact that cannabis is legalized and regulated in Denver.
“We can’t use federal dollars to support certain industries, sadly,” Susan Liehe, Denver’s Office of Economic Development and Opportunity marketing director, told KDVR.
“For folks who are in the cannabis industry, the fact that they are caught sideways between local and federal governments is not exactly news, right? This is by no means the first time they’ve heard this and regrettably probably not the last,” she added.
Like other businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has hurt the company financially. Owner Damon Miller said Meadowlark 64 lost 20% in business due to COVID-19. He hoped having some relief through the PPE package could reverse the trend. Although Denver handed out less than half of its PPE kits, Miller or his customers won’t receive one.
“A business such as myself that does not dispense THC, but we do happen to dispense CBD. We were denied our PPE package just because of those parameters, apparently,” Miller said.
“A customer is a customer, a life is a life,” he added, “and in this day and age, anything we can do to help those folks out while they’re navigating this uncertain time, you know, that’s what we were expecting to get from the City of Denver.”
Although cannabis companies still must pay federal taxes, they were ineligible to receive any coronavirus-related funding by the Small Business Administration program earlier this year.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used his platform to promote hemp-based protective masks. McConnell, a major thrust behind the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp production in the United States, has also mocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for including cannabis banking legislation in the next wave of coronavirus federal relief.
“The coronavirus is not gone,” McConnell said while visiting a Kentucky-based hemp company. “And in the meantime, I recommend a hemp mask as one of the best.”
From homegrown hemp masks to distilleries making hand sanitizer, Kentuckians are leading by example. We’re going to keep working together to beat this virus. pic.twitter.com/ll44Cdk9k5
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) August 24, 2020