Legal Experts Offer Free Advice Online About Federal Pandemic Relief Funding

By William Sumner, Hemp Content Manager, New Frontier Data

Businesses have been hit hard during the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., especially those in the hemp industry. A recent poll by New Frontier Data found that 48% of hemp operators surveyed reported supply-chain disruptions because of the pandemic.

Though Congress has passed several bills aimed at providing financial relief to businesses, navigating the complex patchwork of federal programs and regulations has proven for some to be an insurmountable challenge.

Looking to provide clarity in such uncertain times, New Frontier Data presented another free webinar, Unpacking the CARES Act: Opportunities for Hemp Operators. Moderated by New Frontier Data’s Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) John Kagia, the event featured two experts intimately familiar with navigating federal relief programs.

Jeremy Green serves as general counsel for both Green Point Research and the Florida Hemp Industries Association. Nolan Jackson is a litigator and regulatory attorney at Frost, Brown, and Todd LLC, where he practices with the hemp service team.

The bulk of the conversation centered on the CARES Act, a $2 trillion federal stimulus bill intended primarily to help small- to mid-sized businesses.

As Jackson pointed out, it is important for hemp operators to realize that the CARES Act is not a monolithic bill.

Rather than being a single program, he explained, the CARES Act “is a couple of different programs that are all comprised into a single piece of legislation. “Hemp companies should be aware of the differences between these programs, and the qualifications for each,” Jackson continued. “It could be that a hemp company qualifies for one program under the CARES Act, but doesn’t qualify for another.”

There are two primary programs provided for: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL). Helping businesses keep their workforce employed, the PPP provides loans of up to $10 million (or 2.5x the average payroll costs) to businesses with 500 employees or fewer. Similarly, the EIDL program provides loans of up to $2 million to help businesses pay for fixed debts and other expenses.

Speaking about the EIDL program, Green advises businesses not to wait before applying, because of the time it will take to receive any funds.

“In the two-and-a-half months that the program has been online,” he noted, “less than half have received those funds. This isn’t something that you should apply for and [expect to] in a few days, a week, or even three weeks, receive those funds.”

Green explained that while PPP funds are forgivable (provided that the borrow follows specific guidelines), the EIDL loans are not.

Jackson and Green’s entire conversation about the CARES Act and COVID-19 relief programs can be found online here.