The New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) announced alliances with economic justice and business advocates to ensure minority representation in the NJ cannabis industry.
“Whether potential license holders or general contractors or subcontractors, the state must ensure that people of color are part of the economic fabric of the cannabis industry that gets woven in the next few months,” said NJCBA President Ed DeVeaux. “We have to hold non-minority license holders and contractors accountable for the inclusion of minority stakeholders.”
Partners in the alliance include:
- The Gloucester County NAACP
- The New Jersey NAACP
- Salvation & Social Justice
- The Camden Business Association
- The Essex County Latino Chamber of Commerce
- The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey
Ensuring Minority Representation
Working under the motto that good economic policy is an inclusive policy, the groups are banding together to ensure minority representation in New Jersey’s cannabis industry.
The organizations will share information, conduct business networking sessions, and provide the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) and legislature with ideas to help shape the cannabis economy in New Jersey.
“We call upon all diverse New Jersey community and legislative leaders to collaborate and ensure that those aforementioned communities are considered first, not last, in pushing for the economic equity of those who have been disproportionately impacted,” Nichelle Pace, Vice President of the Camden Business Association said.
Pace said the NJCBA needs to stay engaged through partnerships and collaboration to ensure “the cannabis industry does not get built on the backs of the communities that have lost wealth, life, and liberties for decades.”
“Aligning ourselves with the NJCBA makes perfect sense,” said Joe Hernandez, Vice Chairman of the Essex County Latino Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. “We represent so many individuals, businesses, and communities that would benefit from responsible commercial practices. The NJCBA is the state’s only trade association that represents all interests in the cannabis industry. Most importantly, the NJCBA listened to what we had to say and responded, ‘we are here to help.’”
“We are excited about this alliance with the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association because we both advocate for a cannabis industry that will be inclusive and one that will support policies to protect members of disadvantaged communities from being shut out of this commerce,” said Loretta Winters, President of the Gloucester County NAACP. “We also support sensible regulations and tax policies that will ensure the cannabis industry remains a vibrant and diverse business sector for years to come in the State of New Jersey.”
“The SHCCNJ recognizes the many medical benefits derived from cannabis plants and welcomes new businesses to the State of New Jersey that will have a positive impact on the local and statewide business community, and in particular diverse businesses that need to be at the table,” said Carlos Medina, President, and CEO of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.
The NJCBA has always sought to present itself as an association of small businesses eager to enter the cannabis industry in contrast to the NJ Cannabis Trade Association, which only admits those who have received a cannabis license to operate. The former NJ Cannabis Industry Association was also far pricier to join. It has since become defunct.
There is no minority representation currently among New Jersey’s cannabis owners. In stark contrast, a great many underground entrepreneurs are Hispanic and African American. It is an issue not only in New Jersey but throughout the cannabis industry. Those with the capital to lobby and cut through the red tape are often White. It’s an issue that is not unique to cannabis. Most wealthy companies are owned and operated by white people.
However, given the roots of cannabis legalization in a struggle rooted in social justice, many believe it should more just.