The Boston-based cannabis company Lantern has launched an incubator in New Jersey geared towards assisting Social Equity applicants.
They recently launched the New Jersey Cannabis Project to provide social equity entrepreneurs with the resources and knowledge to succeed.
“We know how hard it is to raise the money. One to get the license and stand them up,” Lantern Head of Equity Partnerships Akele Parnell said. “If you’re an average person without a ton of resources and a ton of knowledge for the legal industry, we can help fill in those gaps.”
The cannabis company incubator is hosting a two-part program. It will have a pre-license application section. Sessions are designed to help prepare an applicant for a license, and a post-winning license section to help the winners get up and running.
“Access to capital is, of course, the biggest barrier,” Parnell noted.
Lantern focuses on technical application services, including a resources database, real estate, operations, and equipment vendors as part of their mentoring.
Social Equity applicants often have difficulty competing in the cannabis industry. The largest cannabis companies are owned and operated by White men with deep pockets. They can pay for lobbyists and regulatory compliance overhead. Many note those with connections to Wall Street and Big Pharma are better positioned than those with experience in the underground legacy market and those harmed by the War on Drugs. They have financial connections and experience operating in a regulated industry.
The incubator process is conducive to building a long-term relationship. Lantern wants to continue to raise funding and connect folks with capital.
Parnell said once an applicant wins a license, the capital will come.
Launching a Social Equity Cannabis Company Incubator
The New Jersey Cannabis Project is now accepting applications for its incubator. They’re focused on Social Equity applicants that want Retail, Delivery, and Distribution licenses along with all types of micro licenses.
“We want folks ready who understand the commitment to run the business, have passion for the plant and being in the industry to get through the really hard times and be successful,” Parnell said.
Applicants for Social Equity status need to verify how the War on Drugs impacted them, qualifications, why social equity matters to them, and how they incorporated it into their business model. They are also looking for cannabis company incubator applicants with a good business plan detailing their product and brand.
Their first New Jersey class will have about 25 applicants.
The cannabis company incubator has a slate of local and out-of-state Social Equity advisors and professionals helping people. Parnell noted cannabis attorney Fruqan Mouzon would be a featured speaker, as will Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana (M4MM) General Counsel Jessica Gonzalez and Veteran Outreach Director Leo Bridgewater.
They will also bring in consultants from legal cannabis states to teach applicants about compliance and other issues.
Lantern has seen success with its programs in other states. Their incubator in Massachusetts held the first applicant for a delivery license win.
Delivery licenses are considered the easiest licenses to obtain. It likely has the least overhead.
Lantern has also partnered with the advocacy group Color of Cannabis in Colorado to help Social Equity entrepreneurs position enter the market. In Detroit, they launched the city’s official technical assistance program for cannabis entrepreneurs.
They are an e-commerce cannabis delivery company that is a Multi-State Operator (MSO) founded in 2019. Lantern currently operates in Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York. They would like a license in New Jersey.