Leafley Article: $6 billion for farm disaster aid but not a penny for cannabis farmers. WTF?

Last month the Biden administration proudly announced that farmers hit by natural disasters over the past two years would start receiving relief payments from a $6 billion injection into the USDA’s Emergency Relief Program.

“Farmers and ranchers across the country have been hit hard by an ongoing pandemic coupled with more frequent and catastrophic natural disasters,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. These new funds will “inject financial support back into the rural economy” to farmers who lost crops due to drought, wildfire, smoke damage, flooding, and winter freeze.

New funds will help farmers recover from wildfire and other disasters. But not if you’re growing legal marijuana.

The support is expected to be especially welcome in the American West, where wildfires and smoke wiped out many crops in 2020 and 2021.

There’s only one hitch in the program, though. State-licensed cannabis farmers, whose outdoor crops in the West were severely damaged by wildfire, aren’t eligible to receive a single penny of relief.

President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (right) are helping farmers hit by natural disasters—but not if they’re farming state-licensed cannabis. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In an email to Leafly, a USDA spokesperson confirmed that there’s no way for cannabis growers to receive any of these funds—no matter how much damage or destruction their crops may have suffered.

“Marijuana is a controlled substance, and therefore is not eligible for federal farm programs,” a USDA spokesperson wrote in an email. “Hemp,” the spokesperson noted, “is eligible for farm programs.”

Hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, but it’s not state-licensed cannabis—which, as Leafly noted last year, now comprises America’s fifth most valuable crop.

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