New Jersey Announces New Cannabis Social Equity Grant Program

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced last week the creation of a grant program to help small businesses with costs associated with starting a business in the state’s regulated cannabis industry. Known as the Cannabis Equity Grant Program, the new initiative will distribute up to $10 million in grants, the majority of which will be allocated to social equity applicants.

The new grant program was approved by a unanimous vote by the NJEDA Board of Directors at last week’s monthly meeting. in the statementNew Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the grant will help underserved communities to participate in the new recreational marijuana economy that has been legalized after passage of a statewide referendum in 2020. He said it would help level the playing field for entrepreneurs.

“My administration is redoubled efforts to foster small businesses in fast-growing industries with huge untapped potential,” Murphy said. “The establishment of the Cannabis Equity Grant Program is a vital area of ​​the state’s growing economy and will help aspiring small business owners to cover start-up costs. The program is to erode the substantial barriers to access for communities of color, equipping them with the resources they need to not only enter, but thrive in this exciting new industry. It helps.”

The program will help small businesses, including $6 million reserved for Cannabis Social Equity applicants, including those who have been previously convicted of cannabis-related crimes and residents of economically disadvantaged communities. approves a grant of up to $10 million to A pilot program for the grant program was approved by legislation sponsored by Senate Speaker Nicholas Scutari and Congressional Budget Committee Chair Eliana Pinter Marin, and was signed into law by Murphy in June.

“This program allows us to make a positive impact by supporting diversity in the New Jersey cannabis industry during its formative stages,” Scutari said in a statement. “As the market continues to grow steadily, these grants will help provide opportunities for more operators in more communities to participate.”

$6 million for social equity applicants

Up to $6 million in subsidies for businesses that have a conditional license to operate from the state Cannabis Control Commission (CRC), are located in economically disadvantaged areas, and plan to employ 50 or fewer employees is awarded. Grants of up to $250,000 will be used by businesses established in designated impact zones after March 2020 to cover rent, utilities, wages, regulatory costs, etc. to start a licensed cannabis company. can cover the initial cost of

“The governor and Congress have committed to making the cannabis market accessible to women and minority entrepreneurs,” said Rep. Bernina Reynolds-Jackson. “The cannabis market is meant to benefit equities, but the cost of entry proved too high for some. This subsidy program will help level the playing field. We want to ensure that those most affected by the war on drugs and underserved communities have the opportunity to participate in this process. increase.”

Affected areas are defined by the CRC as areas with postal codes that meet certain socioeconomic criteria, such as poverty and unemployment levels, and that have been significantly affected by marijuana crime arrests. Granted entrepreneurs also participate in technical assistance and business education courses offered by NJEDA. Impact Zone companies applying for grants are waived of the $1,000 application fee.

Senator Nellie Paw said, “Part of the impetus for passing legislation for legalization is that marijuana bans have disproportionately and adversely affected young people in the black and Latinx communities for decades. “As Chair of the Legislative Latino Caucus, NJEDA launched this Cannabis Equity Grant Program to financially support the start-up costs of new businesses in highly impacted communities. It’s another important part of the social equity contract at the heart of cannabis legalization in New Jersey.”

The remaining $4 million in grants will be made available to all businesses that secure business sites and receive City approval. Both of these are requirements that must be met in order to apply for an annual license from the CRC. According to state officials, the grant application period is 180 days from the start of the program.

NJEDA Chief Community Development Officer Ty Cooper said: “Communities disproportionately harmed by the criminalization of cannabis need the opportunity to profit from the new entrepreneurial opportunities created by the legalization and regulated sale of cannabis. We hope to expand into a business that will help fill closed stores, warehouses and other commercial properties and bring new jobs to communities that need it most.”

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