Cannabis dispensaries struggle to find financial support amid pandemic

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – While cannabis sales are up during the pandemic, not all dispensaries are sharing the same success stories.

Many smaller shops without big investors are dealing with the same issues retail businesses face with the exception that those in the cannabis industry don’t have any loans or grants from the federal government to fall back on.

Plus, some have found it just as hard to receive any support from the state.

While some may assume it’s high times for all of those in the cannabis industry right now, the grass isn’t always greener.

“Even a dispensary that I would consider my size as medium, we’re not making money. We’re surviving and that’s it and the increased cost of doing business is just through the roof,” Jerred Kiloh said.

Jerred Kiloh is the president of the United Cannabis Business Association. 

He owns the Higher Path in Los Angeles and is opening a dispensary, called Abide, in Napa this Friday.

Although deemed essential in California, he says he can’t rely on the same lifelines that some of his neighbors have. 

“I can’t even get a small business loan at a normal bank, federal assistance, or not. Grant or not. Loan or not. There’s no money,” Kiloh said.

Cannabis companies pay federal taxes but are shut out of federal aid because they are illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

Plus they’re not allowed to deduct all of their business expenses and Kiloh says he can’t even catch a break from the state.

“I can’t even get an extension on paying my taxes at a later date and they want to charge me a 50% penalty if I’m more than one day late,” Kiloh said.

Finding relief from the state is proving to be just as hard.

“Federally cannabis businesses are barred from receiving any of these loans and grants. However they are eligible for state money if they are licensed, if they are legal within the state of California you can apply for state loan programs. The difficulty, however, you must have a valid bank account in which to transfer those funds and this is where so many companies are denied by default,” Dale Sky Jones said.

Dale Sky Jones is the executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University which was founded in Oakland in 2007 to provide qualified training for the cannabis industry. 

Many of her students now own dispensaries or are manufacturers and distributors but she says the coronavirus hit all levels of the supply chain.

“There are a lot of holes in the shelf. you go to your favorite place and suddenly they don’t have the product,” Jones said.

Despite all of the extra hurdles, those in the cannabis industry say they’ve come this far and are hopeful after proving their resilience time and time again.

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