Governor Phil Murphy announced today the appointment of Charles Barker to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to replace labor leader William Wallace.
Wallace was replaced after African American advocates were outraged no African American man had been placed on the commission. There was also no representative of a national social justice organization. Barker, an African American man, is a leader of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
A leader of the UFCW, Wallace will now be appointed as the CRC’s Director of Labor Relations.
“I know Charles has the experience, commitment, and skills needed to help build a fair and inclusive adult-use cannabis market that will serve as a national model,” Murphy said.
Barker is a Constituent Advocate and Projects Specialist for Senator Cory Booker. He manages several policy areas, including criminal justice reform and cannabis.
During the 2018 election, he served as a Strategic Advisor to Anthony Cureton’s campaign to be the first Black Sheriff in Bergen County. Barker has also served as Associate General Counsel for Alma Realty Corp. and a legal intern for the politically connected Wilentz, Goldman, & Spitzer law firm.
Barker earned his undergraduate degree in 2010 from Rutgers University and law degree in 2014 from Brooklyn Law School. A native of the City of Passaic, Barker is a member of Calvary Baptist Church of North Jersey in Garfield.
“As a young Black man from an underserved neighborhood in New Jersey, I am humbled to join the Cannabis Regulatory Commission and bring my perspective to the table,” said Barker. “For generations, the misguided War on Drugs has devastated entire families and communities. I know this experience first-hand from being unjustly profiled and pulled over, illegally searched, and scolded many times by the police simply for the color of my skin.”
Cannabis Regulatory Commission Appointee Praised
“Charles has been an incredibly valuable member of our team with an important voice on issues from criminal justice reform to equitable marijuana legalization policy, and I know he will continue to stand up for justice in this new role,” said Booker. “While we will miss Charles and the incredible spirit he brings to our team, I am confident that he is the right person for this historic responsibility, and all of New Jersey will be better for it.”
“I am very proud of Charles. I have in his life as his pastor since he was a child. His commitment to social and economic justice was started and was nurtured here at Calvary,” said Reverend Calvin McKinney, Senior Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church of North Jersey at Garfield. “Congratulations, Governor Murphy, for an outstanding pick.”
“I have worked several years with Charles on cannabis and racial justice issues throughout his time in Senator Booker’s office,” said Reverend Charles Boyer, Pastor at Bethel AME Church in Woodbury and Executive Director of Salvation and Justice.
Boyer and the NJ NAACP were among those outraged that the CRC did not contain a black man. They threatened a lawsuit which had stalled the work of the CRC since Murphy made appointments to the CRC after months of stalling.
“Charles Barker, a projects specialist for U.S. Senator Cory Booker, is currently a member of the National Action Network and has garnered wide respect from leaders of our organization due to his work to ensure fairness in our marijuana laws,” said Senior Pastor Reverend Dr. Steffie Bartley, Sr., Senior Pastor at New Hope Memorial Baptist Church and Northeast Regional Director/New Jersey Coordinator for the National Action Network.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission will regulate New Jersey’s medical cannabis marketplace and provide oversight for the soon-to-be-established adult-use cannabis marketplace.