Our Letter to the Governor & the Director of the Department of Commerce
March 23, 2020
Office of the Governor
Department of Commerce
Dear Governor Inslee and Director Lisa Brown,
These are difficult times for us all and we appreciate everything you have been doing for us during the COVID-19 crisis to keep us physically safe.
We are writing on behalf of the cannabis industry as their largest and most diverse trade association, with over 250 members in all aspects of the supply chain. Overall, the industry has struggled financially since the passing of I-502. 2019 was the first year our industry had achieved a small measure of financial stability and many small business owners were finally able to start paying themselves. Then the COVID-19 crisis hit.
While cannabis retailers have been allowed to stay open as an essential business, and our patients appreciate it, we foresee potential losses for our industry as a whole. Further supply chain interruptions are forecasted as our employees are self-isolating, out sick, or are dealing with childcare issues, and all of the auxiliary businesses that we depend on are in a state of flux. Several stores have voluntarily closed and those workers and owners are already suffering economic losses.
Unlike other conventional farmers or manufacturers, we cannot tap into the federal small business loans and grants to tide us over until the crisis wanes. The cannabis industry will need some sort of economic, governmental assistance on the state level to help us get back on our feet and return to employing more than 10,000 Washington workers.
Washington cannabis businesses will need:
- Deferment of rent, mortgage, and utility payments to help rebuild our businesses and provide the funds to keep our workforce employed.
- State assistance through grants and loans will be essential to the cannabis industry’s survival, as working capital for this industry is self-funded. Almost all of Washington’s cannabis industry is fueled by small, family-owned businesses and the owners have to fully fund their operating expenses out of their own meager savings. Without a steady flow of income, our businesses will fail catastrophically. We will need a clear path to identify those funds to the LCB as any injection of capital into our businesses needs to be approved by our regulating board.
Cannabis is a large contributor to Washington’s economy and we want to continue to be a vital, ethical, and sustainable industry for the future. We are proud to contribute over $395.5 million in legal marijuana income and license fees according to the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board’s FY 2019 Annual Report. This will be a crucial contribution to the state’s overall recovery effort.
Your assistance is critically important to our industry and we appreciate your leadership in these difficult times. With your support, cannabis can continue to be a growing industry and a significant contributor to the future of Washington’s development.