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Bill to Help Cannabis Firms in Impact Zones Passes NJ Legislature

The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill introduced by Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Union) to help small cannabis companies in impact zones access financial assistance.

His bill, S 2945, requires a portion of funds made available under a New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) program to be reserved for businesses operating within an impact zone.

It passed the NJ Senate 25-11. 

Helping Impact Zones

A program created by the NJEDA would award financial incentives to provide financial and/or technical assistance to prospective or licensed cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, cannabis retailers, and cannabis delivery services that qualify as small businesses.

The process for securing financial assistance from the NJEDA has not been lined out. The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) has said that it is working with the NJEDA to roll out such a program to help cannabis companies.

The bill requires a portion of any funds made available under the future program to be reserved for businesses operating within an impact zone and (is funded in whole or in part through 42 monies derived from the Social Equity Excise Fee and provides that the monies appropriated from the Social Equity 44 Excise Fee are to be restricted to businesses operating within an impact zone.

It would be funded through the Social Equity excise impact fee collected.

In addition, funding would be made available by the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development for on-the-job training with impact zone dispensaries.

Legislature Seeks to Assist Cannabis Companies

The bill passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on a 7-4 vote. It passed on a largely partisan vote except for Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo abstaining. 

The Assembly companion bill was A 4392. It was sponsored by Assemblywomen Annette Quijano (D-Union), Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex), Shavonda Sumter (D-Passaic), and Angela McKnight (D-Hudson).

It passed the Assembly Budget Committee on Monday 9-2. The bill passed the Assembly 44-25, with 4 not voting and 7 abstaining.

Sufficient capital and finding a location remain the biggest barriers to entry for cannabis companies in New Jersey.

New York, under Governor Kathy Hochul (D), has already created a Social Equity Fund. It has $200 million to help cannabis companies.

There are lingering concerns about the nature of the impact zone list of towns. It’s also a concern how much money they will receive, and how they were selected.

Legislative Cannabis Measures

The New Jersey State Budget for Fiscal Year 2023, set to begin Friday, was passed today in both chambers. The budget assumes the State has collected adult-use cannabis revenue since the market opened earlier this year on April 21.

“I am grateful for the work of my caucus, Assembly Budget Chair Pintor Marin. Our colleagues in the Senate, and Senate President Scutari. I look forward to Governor Murphy signing the strong and fiscally responsible budget we have delivered. That is addressing everyday kitchen table issues for New Jersey families,” NJ Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said.

NJ Senate Republicans criticized the Democratic budget as usual on the perpetual need to cut property taxes in New Jersey.

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