This is double the originally planned 24 awards
On Tuesday, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) unveiled an expanded Cannabis Equity Grant Program, with a commitment of $12 million to support 48 cannabis startups. This is double the originally planned 24 awards, a move made possible by Governor Phil Murphy’s additional allocation of funds.
Joined by Bloomfield Mayor Michael J. Venezia and officials from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC), NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan and Chief Community Development Officer Tai Cooper emphasized that the grant, the largest of its kind in the U.S., will prioritize entrepreneurs from communities historically affected by the War on Drugs.
Earlier this year, the initial phase of the program, named the Joint Ventures Grant, was introduced to assist recreational cannabis startups. To ensure fairness, 40% of this funding was set aside for qualifying social equity applicants, with an additional 5% earmarked for businesses in Impact Zones.
Governor Murphy commented on the program’s significance, “As we forge a stronger, fairer cannabis market, it’s vital that we champion businesses seeking growth in this domain, especially those from communities that suffered the most from the War on Drugs.”
Echoing his sentiments, CEO Tim Sullivan added, “Legalization under Governor Murphy has not only boosted state tax revenues but also made strides towards a more equitable cannabis marketplace. By investing further, we aim to rectify past injustices.”
NJCRC’s Chair, Dianna Houenou, lauded the partnership with NJEDA, expressing optimism about New Jersey setting a standard for the rest of the nation in terms of cannabis market equity.
Tai Cooper emphasized that while the grant is a significant step, there’s more to be done, “Communities of color, disproportionately affected by cannabis criminalization, must see greater benefits. Thanks to Governor Murphy, this program will be pivotal in ensuring that.”
The forthcoming Phase II, Seed Equity Grant, will also leverage the increased funding. This phase is dedicated entirely to the communities hardest hit by the War on Drugs. Awardees will receive $150,000, along with guidance on areas such as licensure, business team formation, financial management, and investor relations.
For a detailed overview of the program and a list of the 48 grant recipients, visit the NJEDA’s official website at www.njeda.gov/cannabis-equity-grant-program/.