Recently, the spotlight has firmly been on the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJ-EDA) for their notable initiative – the NJ Cannabis Grants. This program saw 48 cannabis businesses, some even rooted outside the Garden State, being recognized and awarded.
Criteria and Controversies Surrounding NJ Cannabis Grants
To navigate the NJ Cannabis Grants landscape, businesses must comprehend the specific eligibility nuances. For a cannabis enterprise to operate within New Jersey, it’s imperative to collaborate with a local partner, holding a minimum of 5% of the ownership stock. However, true allegiance to the state is only recognized if a majority, i.e., 51% of the ownership, is Jersey-based.
New Jersey’s cannabis industry boasts a vast spectrum. On one end are the ‘Goldilocks’ – representing local entrepreneurs deeply affected by the War on Drugs, often comprising minorities, women, and disabled veterans. At the opposite end are the Multi-State Operators (MSOs), often laden with issues and not entirely in favor of the state’s home-grown cannabis policies.
The Machinery Behind NJ Cannabis Grants
Though one might assume the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) would be the body behind the NJ Cannabis Grants, it’s the NJ-EDA that took the lead, albeit with collaboration from the former.
Tai Cooper, NJ-EDA’s Chief Community Development Officer, shed light on the grant qualification intricacies. Essentials included NJ-CRC’s annual or conditional nod, site control, and relevant municipal approvals. Additionally, a solid standing with New Jersey’s Treasury and Labor and Workforce Development Departments was non-negotiable.
A significant highlight Cooper shared was the demographics of the grantees: 50% minority-owned, 41% led by women, and 25% dual-owned by both minorities and women.
NJ Cannabis Grants: The Funding Source and Way Forward
Intriguingly, the NJ Cannabis Grants were fueled by leftover federal COVID recovery funds. Hence, only ventures established post-March 2020 came into consideration.
Cooper shared the exhaustive journey culminating in this grant process. Their two-year-long initiative heavily banked on feedback and struggles narrated by local cannabis businesses.
In line with New Jersey’s unique cannabis market, the NJ-EDA, for these grants, strayed from the U.S. Small Business Association’s definition of ‘small business’. They set the bar at 50 employees.
Apart from highlighting the importance of businesses being rooted in New Jersey, Cooper signaled the advent of future grants under their Seed Equity scheme, with a keen focus on social equity.
NJ Cannabis Grants: The Beneficiaries and Broader Impact
New Jersey is carving a niche for itself among peers by crafting a balanced cannabis market. Noteworthy recipients of the NJ Cannabis Grants include Illicit Gardens of MO, Canna Remedies of PA and IL, Nightjar, Ascension Cannabis Brands, Highgrade Laboratories, and Brighterside Canopy. Each has its unique story but is united by their commitment to the New Jersey cannabis landscape.
Stay with Scarlet Reserve for continual updates and deep dives into New Jersey’s evolving cannabis scene, especially the pivotal NJ Cannabis Grants.