(CBS4) – Congress will consider including the cannabis industry in the next COVID-19 stimulus package, thanks to a Congressman from Colorado. Rep. Ed Perlmutter has introduced a bill that would allow banking services and forgivable loans for small pot shops.

(credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Because pot is illegal under federal law, cannabis businesses are unable to access and participate in SBA’s loan programs—financial support that is designed to pay workers, health care benefits, and family or sick leave.

READ MORE: 2 Colorado College Students Launch 'Price Medic' With Goal Of Helping Patients Find Affordable Procedures

“Cannabis businesses are major employers and significant contributors to local economies in Colorado and across the country,” U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) stated.  “They should receive the same level of support as other legal, legitimate businesses and be eligible for SBA relief funds during this COVID-19 crisis.”

Perlmutter says the industry generated $1.7 billion in sales for the state last year — and it employs 45,000 people.

READ MORE: Denver Tied 126-Year-Old Record High Saturday, Lands In Top 5 For 90 Degree Days

Last week, Perlmutter helped lead a bipartisan coalition of nearly three dozen Congressmembers in calling on House leadership to ensure cannabis businesses are included in future relief efforts.

The new legislation would grant state-legal cannabis businesses eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and Economic Injury Disaster Loans emergency advances.

MORE NEWS: Police, Firefighters, Rescue Teams Continue Search For Diana Brown, Missing Flash Floods Ripped Through Poudre Canyon

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado