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COVID-19 Business Support Programs for Cannabis Companies in the United States

Cova-Support-for-Cannabis-CompaniesAs social distancing and the COVID-19 epidemic continues, many business owners will be facing the financial crunch that the virus is causing. The rapid speed in which the virus progressed has left many business owners scrambling to maintain the health of their company.

Employers are looking for any way in which they can cut costs, remain open, gain new funds, and more to remain financially stable. With social distancing staying for the foreseeable future, many business owners are unsure of what to do next.

One industry that will be watching the news closely is the cannabis industry. Each state that has legal cannabis has the choice to delegate them as essential businesses, or not. Luckily, most dispensaries have been able to remain open, in some capacity.

As mentioned, almost every dispensary has been deemed essential in some way. Certain states are limiting dispensaries to medicinal only sales, which can hamper their sales.

If your business, like the millions of others, have been impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic, try to stay calm. There are many resources available to business owners, especially cannabis dispensaries, during these difficult times. Let us take a detailed look at some resources that are available to dispensaries:


The financial resource that most everyone is talking about right now is the CARES Act. The CARES Act is a multi-part, $2 trillion economic stimulus plan that the government just passed a few weeks ago.

The CARES Act will help support seven main groups of people during this economic recession: individuals, small businesses, large scale corporations, healthcare industries, the local government, the federal government, and non-profits.

One industry that the CARES Act fails to address is Marijuana Dispensaries. Marijuana is still listed as a schedule 1 drug under federal law. Since Marijuana is considered illegal at the federal level, dispensaries cannot apply for federal assistance, even during these troubling times.

It is frustrating to think that marijuana dispensaries have been deemed essential by the government, but that they cannot receive aid in a time of need.

While your dispensary cannot benefit from all the CARES Act has to offer, do not hesitate to look elsewhere for assistance. There are still other financing options available to help your dispensary make it through the COVID-19 epidemic.

Apply for a Small Business Loan

As already mentioned, financing a dispensary in the United States is still an interesting process. Dispensaries do not qualify for any loan offered by the Small Business Administration as marijuana is still illegal at a federal level. While your business may not qualify for a loan from the SBA, you still can rely on other loans to make it through this economic disaster.

Alternative lenders have become increasingly popular for dispensary owners to use. If you find that your dispensary is having trouble with finances, an online small business loan may be the best option available to you.

Online lenders will usually offer multiple different loan options that can be tailor-made to fit your dispensary’s needs.

Working capital loans are likely the route that your dispensary will want to take during the COVID-19 epidemic. A working capital loan is similar to the payroll protection program loans that the federal government rolled out under the CARES Act. These loans can provide immediate assistance for dispensaries to help cover the everyday costs of running a business.

While the interest rates and relief terms will not be as lucrative as with the loans that the federal government is offering, an online business loan may be exactly what your dispensary needs to make it through this difficult time.

Research State Assistance Programs

Depending on the state that your dispensary operates in, you may be eligible to receive some assistance at a more local level.

First, here are states that are not offering any new assistance programs available to cannabis businesses:


Washington D.C Nevada Oregon Vermont
Arizona Missouri New Mexico Pennsylvania Washington
Connecticut Minnesota North Dakota Oregon West Virginia
Delaware Montana Ohio Utah


While these states are not offering statewide assistance that can benefit the cannabis industry, there still are local programs that may be worthwhile to explore. Check out your local chamber of commerce, small business development centers, or department of labor websites to see if any local legislation has been passed.

Some different statewide programs that have been passed include:

  • Arkansas - The Quick Action Loan Plan was passed in late March and will provide immediate funding, or loan guarantees to Arkansas-based businesses that serve the supply-chain of essential goods and services. These loans will be capped at $250,000.
  • Florida - Short-Time Compensation Program. The Short-Time Compensation Program will provide assistance to employers to help keep their employees on payroll.
  • Hawaii - Reducing Unemployment Disruption Driving Economic Regeneration, or the RUDDER program has been established to promote hiring, even during the recession. The program will provide up to $100,000 to Hawaii-based businesses who hire during COVID-19.
  • Illinois - Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund has been created to help fund Illinois-based businesses outside of the city of Chicago. Businesses must have fewer than 50 workers and have made less than $3 million in revenue from 2019.

Businesses will be eligible to receive up to $50,000. 50% of the funds received must be used towards payroll, rent, and other business expenses. The loan will be under a five-year repayment plan with a six-month hold on your first payment. Companies located in the city of Chicago will be eligible for a similar program located here.

  • Louisiana - Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program, or LPGP, is a loan program that will offer up to $100,000 to employers that have less than 100 employees on staff and their respected business has been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus.
  • Maine - The Financial Authority of Maine (FAME) has created the COVID-19 Relief Business Loan Program. The program will offer loans of up to $50,000 to businesses negatively impacted by the Coronavirus.
  • Maryland - Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund has been created to provide up to $50,000 of relief to small businesses in Maryland. The loans will be interest-free for the 12-months with a 2% interest rate for the next 36-months after that.
  • Utah - While Utah has not implemented a state-wide relief program that can be used by dispensaries, Salt Lake City, however, has created the Salt Lake City Emergency Loan Program. Local businesses would be eligible to receive up to $20,000 of funding that would have a 0% interest rate. The loans would need to be used for payroll, working capital, and other necessary expenses.

There may be more local programs available to dispensaries as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Keep up with your local news to make sure that you do not miss out on any loans or grants that your dispensary may be eligible to receive.

Work-Share Programs and When to Use Them

Work-sharing is a great way to reduce the number of hours your employees work while being able to keep them on payroll. Work-share programs are beneficial to almost every party involved.

Work-sharing is when an employee is able to work a reduced amount of hours while still being able to partially collect unemployment benefits. This will allow employers to keep their already trained staff in place during a recession, with the opportunity to quickly adjust when the economy bounces back. This will also free up more money in the unemployment fund, as paying partial unemployment benefits is more cost-effective than paying the full amount.

Not all states offer work-share programs, and the benefits will differ from state to state. Here is a comprehensive list of all the states that offer work-share programs, and what exactly their work-share programs consist of.

If your dispensary has been hit by the COVID-19 epidemic, participating in a work-share program might be the next step for your business to take.

Keep Working

Luckily, many states have deemed cannabis dispensaries as essential businesses. This will allow your business to keep bringing in some cash over the next few weeks, albeit in a limited capacity.

Remember to practice safe business practices during the height of the virus. Take efforts to make your dispensary as touch-free and safe as possible. Social-distancing should be in effect and your staff should remain diligent when it comes to disinfecting surfaces.

If anybody at your workplace begins to feel ill, send them home and disinfect. It is better to be safe rather than sorry.

As social-distancing continues, your business may have to resort to carry-out and pre-orders, only. Make sure that you have the correct software and equipment in place to switch over to a contactless dispensary.

Interested in using Cova POS system to support your curbside pick up, online ordering and delivery services? Contact us today to learn how we can help you effortlessly keep track of your inventory, marketing efforts, and business efficiency today.


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