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NJ Senate Minority Cannabis Entrepreneur Lending Bill Advances

Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) is advancing a bill to help NJ minority cannabis entrepreneurs seeking to enter the medical cannabis industry access capital in New Jersey.

He is passionate about legalization and creating a just cannabis industry.

“The War on Drugs for low-income Black and Brown communities has done nothing but hold those communities back,” Singleton said. “It is long past time to reform cannabis law as we pass legalization.”

Empowering Minority NJ Cannabis Entrepreneurs

Singleton noted that many minority New Jersey cannabis entrepreneurs are entering into a new and tumultuous industry. However they face the challenge of obtaining funding sources from banks or private sources at a commercially reasonable rate. His bill, S. 2875, “Revises certain restrictions on ownership of medical cannabis alternative treatment centers.” It would help those seeking to enter the medical cannabis industry.

“This proposal seeks to use a free-market solution to address that problem,” he noted.

The bill was designed to ensure that all members of society can benefit economically from legalization.

It was amended to address concerns that a lender with 40 percent ownership in 10 companies could seem like a monopoly. A lender can only own shares in a company it backs for a finite amount of time.

If a company or cannabis investment fund backs a start-up, they must do so for a minimum of a three-years. However, they must be divested from them within seven years.

Singleton noted that they put it in there because of thoughtful commentary that money has to be lent at a commercially reasonable rate.

Investment from third-party-lender deals has to be approved by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), which would not approve a shady deal. While Singleton is not sure what their capacity will be to examine such deals, he noted the Department of Heath’s Medical Marijuana staff will be moved to the CRC.

The CRC will eventually have the ability to receive outside counsel to review arrangements as well. For example, they could enlist a financial analyst group to assist them.

Lending Bill Prospects

The minority New Jersey cannabis entrepreneurs lending bill passed the State Senate on December 17th. That was the day the enabling and decriminalization bills passed the legislature, though their future is cloudy. It will have been a month since they passed this upcoming Sunday.

In the Senate, the lending bill was backed by Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) and Singleton. In the Assembly, the companion bill A. 5179 is sponsored by Assembly members Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer), Brian Bergen (R-Morris), and Jamel Holley (D-Union).

Singleton is hopeful about the bill’s prospects of advancing. It had strong Senate support, where it passed 32-8. That will likely translate into its passage in the Assembly.

When the minority New Jersey cannabis entrepreneurs lending bill was progressing, it do so quietly, Singleton noted. It was likely because the bill was buried under the weight of the debate on the adult-use cannabis enabling bill. It still has to be signed.

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