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A Letter to New Jersey Towns on Ensuring Social Equity

This is a letter to New Jersey towns on Best Practices when drafting cannabis ordinances that implement Social Equity.

Our hope is to help induce New Jersey towns to participate in this emerging cannabis marketplace. Your reluctance is noted. But your involvement is needed.

New Jersey towns have assumed an enormous responsibility to carry out the cannabis market rules established by the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC). A cornerstone of those rules is Social Equity. It must be woven and administered within the New Jersey cannabis market. But if you asked ten people what Social Equity is, you would likely get ten different answers.

The NJCRC has prioritized cannabis license applications from those convicted of cannabis felonies or two misdemeanors, minorities, women, and disabled veterans.

But Social Equity exists in the eye of the beholder, and New Jersey towns are the beholders of Social Equity. Cannabis corporations that are Multi-State Operators (MSOs) pull up to New Jersey with balance sheets for scale and often infringe on small businesses. The guidelines crafted by the NJCRC are intended to guard against this.

New Jersey towns have a lot of power. Now they have the power to enhance or impede Social Equity in the cannabis market.

“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility!” –Ben Parker.

New Jersey Towns and Cannabis

Municipalities should exercise power to ensure Social Equity is properly administered within their communities. Usually, MSOs are opposed to small businesses without enforcement. Please consider enforcement within your ordinances that will promise fairness and safety.

The NJCRC considered systemic inequities to ensure everyone in New Jersey has access to equal opportunities. Please consider participation or opting-in to help bridge the gap.

There is a viable strategy to ensure Social Equity that is gaining popularity. It provides enforceability, fairness, and safety. It is the “Triangle.” The Triangle is a three-point plan that binds the cannabis applicant, the Social Equity recipients, and New Jersey towns in a quantifiable way.

Municipalities must legislate impartiality, fairness, and justice for all people in their Social Equity policy and be able to quantify it with significant compliance.

The Triangle also provides ancillary revenue and enforcement powers for New Jersey towns. A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) bounds the parties together.

CBAs are good because they ensure cannabis corporations are committing to benefiting New Jersey towns. Its clauses ensure Social Equity and similar applicants have a chance of entering the market.

There are challenges with entering and sustaining in any marketplace. However, if we work together as a cooperative state, we can solve some of the problems on the local level.

Please consider this approach so you can be open for cannabis business in New Jersey

MTN Biz Development (MTNBD) works closely with New Jersey’s doctors, lawyers, accountants, real estate professionals, investors, entertainers, and influencers. The aim is to help streamline the growth and development of the cannabis marketplace. MTNBD guides municipalities on the best way to adopt cannabis policy at the local level. They want to ensure town cannabis ordinances include social equity.

Cannabis Education

The need for cannabis education is paramount. Dispelling cannabis myths, stigmas, and misinformation is critical. Municipalities should consider engaging cannabis educators to close this gap. Consider using experienced cannabis law practitioners like the Cannabis Law Committee of the NJ State Bar Association to formulate plan ordinances. This will help provide the necessary touchpoints to administer Social Equity effectively.

New Jersey cannabis regulations say patients must maintain a “bona fide relationship” with their physician for their Cannabis Card Certification from a physician registered with the NJ Medical Cannabis Program. A bonafide relationship includes, among other things, “the physician has seen and/or assessed the patient for the debilitating medical condition on at least four visits.”

MSOs often dispense medical misinformation contrary to this by only requiring one visit to maintain certification. This practice is very averse to New Jersey medical patients. If you’re a New Jersey physician engaging in this practice, you must inform your patients of the inherent risks. Putting profits over patients is a problem in New Jersey.

For example, Dr. Monique Hamilton spends a lot of time unwinding medical misinformation emanating from MSO telemedicine companies.

By Hasaan T. Austin

Austin is the Managing Partner of the MovingTheNeedle™ Biz Development(MTNBD), which incubates and accelerates organizations in the marketplace.

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