A petition calling for the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to work with the cannabis industry has gained 250 signatures in under 24 hours.
The petition was launched by Legal Tender, a coalition of legal cannabis experts, associations and companies that united to demand fair treatment from the Canadian government. Thus far the BDC — a Crown corporation responsible for dispersing federal relief funds — says it isn’t authorized to work with weed businesses.
Legal Tender Canada 💲
We've joined forces with @Cannabis_Canada @theBCICA @The_OICA @ACMLA1 @CanConserve @NORMLCanada in asking for equitable treatment of the #cannabis sector by the @BDC_CA and @FinanceCanada
VISIT: https://t.co/0XkvXTnnr0 USE: #LegalTenderCAD
— Alan Aldous 🖋 (@AlanAldous) March 26, 2020
The BDC has recently drawn wide criticism from the legal cannabis businesses for blocking the industry from accessing federal relief funds.
On March 13, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government would be pumping $10 billion into the private sector through loans and financing to support the economy through financial strife brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. The funds would be available through the BDC and the Export Development Bank, Trudeau said.
Read more: Justin Trudeau’s business bailouts gives cannabis the cold shoulder
That’s great news for a lot of Canadian businesses, but it excludes over 300 cannabis companies licensed by Health Canada which have been unable to apply because the BDC refuses to do business with all weed-related companies, according to Legal Tender’s website.
“The BDC still views cannabis as a high-risk industry, despite the work done within to improve our compliance, social responsibility, and economic contributions,” reads a statement on the site.
Legal Tender’s petition calls on the BDC to work with the cannabis industry, to allow access federal relief funds and for further fair treatment. The coalition wants weed companies to have equal access to tax benefits, credit facilities, loans and everyday banking.
The petition was launched by Alan Aldous Communications and is supported by NORML Canada, the Ontario Independent Cannabis Association, the B.C. Independent Cannabis Association, the Cannabis Council of Canada, the Alberta Cannabis Micro-License Association, The Cannabis Conservancy as well as 29 prominent Canadian cannabis voices.
Last week three Ministers of Parliament and 74 cannabis industry representatives sent letters to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, calling for similar changes.
Read more: Canadian cannabis industry sends letter to Ottawa to be part of $10B relief fund
Read more: To apply for relief funds, weed companies need to have 3 quarters of positive cash flow
Note: An earlier version of the story said the petition was signed 120 times in the first 24 hours, but new numbers show it collected over 250 signatures in the fist day. It has since been updated.