If you are a cannabis industry worker who has been laid off, furloughed, or cannot work because your employer has haltedoperations due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for benefits under emergency legislation and regulations in Massachusetts.
Several resources are currently available that may help you. First, start with the Massachusetts page for information on unemployment and COVID-19. The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), are taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers who are affected by COVID-19 closures.
If your employer shut down because of COVID-19, or if you have been quarantined, you may be able to apply online for unemployment. If your employer reduced your hours or work because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for temporary, prorated unemployment benefits. Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 related unemployment benefits are posted here.
Second, if you have exhausted your previous unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. Check for updates from the Department of Unemployment Assistance to obtain compensation under this benefit.
Third, you may be eligible for an additional $600 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). For those who are eligible, the $600 would be added to all eligible weeks of benefits retroactive to March 29, 2020 and continue until July 31, 2020. If you are eligible, you do not need to do anything extra to receive this benefit.
Fourth, if you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or a gig economy worker and are not working because of COVID-19,and you are not eligible for the above programs, you may apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This is a separate program from traditional unemployment and will be effective for up to 39 weeks of unemployment beginning on or after February 2, 2020 and ending December 26, 2020.
You may also be eligible for other benefits including a one-time stimulus payment, a waived early withdrawal penalty on retirement accounts, temporary federal student loan suspension, and moratoriums on foreclosure and eviction.
Cannabis businesses in states with regulated marijuana programs may not be eligible for the federal assistance for coronavirus-related relief available through the Small Business Administration. The Commission sent a letter to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to ask them to advocate for cannabis businesses to be eligible for the same benefits as other businesses.
There are also numerous mutual aid and community service organizations offering help. Mutual aid consists of volunteer assistance and community exchanges, sometimes connected to formal organizations and sometimes informally developed by citizens. You can often find mutual aid programs by looking up “mutual aid” and the name of your city or town online or throughsocial media. We also recommend following your local and state elected officials for local updates.
If you need help or have a question that is not answered here, call Mass 2-1-1 to be connected to information about critical health and human services available in your community.
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