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NJCRC Holds Forums for Hispanics & Tax $ Reinvestment

NJCRC Hispanics cannabis

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) recently held a webinar on Hispanic issues. Also, they described their hearings on how adult-use cannabis-derived tax revenue should be spent.

NJCRC Vice Chair Sam Delgado and Commissioner Maria Del Cid hosted the webinar. It was bilingual in English and Spanish.

During the forum webinar, they sought to show how inclusive the cannabis industry is due to their work for the NJCRC.

“As two proud Latinos with the CRC, we want to have more outreach,” Delgado said.

“We don’t have the answers for everything. We want to make sure we’re listening to you,” Del Cid said.

An Equitable NJ Cannabis Market with Hispanics

“If you’re arrested for cannabis possession, there’s a great risk for your status on any immigration action,” she noted. “Cannabis is still illegal on the fed level. It’s a challenge.”

11.4 percent self-reported that they were Hispanic-owned of the 802 cannabis licenses awarded, Del Cid said. That is less than their goal.

“That’s the reason we’re having these conversations,” Del Cid said.

She encouraged Hispanic to submit more applications for adult-use cannabis licenses.

Delgado said about 20 percent of New Jersey is Latino.

“We have work to do obviously,” Delgado said.

Less than six percent of cannabis licenses are owned by Hispanics nationally. They make up roughly the same amount as they do in New Jersey, Del Cid said.

Progress Made

“Our applications have some of the lowest fees,” she said.

They also have rolling applications whereby there is no deadline, Del Cid noted. Applicants can resubmit if they receive a “cure letter” that says their application had issues.

“The tax structure in New Jersey is more equitable than other states,” Delgado said.

“The testing on cultivation products is for every 100 lbs.,” he added. “In some states, it’s a lot less. Doing that provided relief for the cultivators. It’s a lot more expensive to test for every 25 lbs.”

They described the details of the micro license.

The Commissioners acknowledged the difficulties preventing Hispanics from seeking a license in the legal New Jersey cannabis industry, such as capital and real estate problems.

“It’s not an easy business to get into. I want to caution everyone. There’s a lot of regulations. There’s a lot of steps,” Delgado said.

They explained there are other easier opportunities.

“There’s a lot of ancillary businesses out there,” Del Cid added.

Non-licensed cannabis companies, known as ancillaries, are easier to launch.

She noted marketing, security, legal, consultation, lobbying, and construction are all lucrative ancillary fields.

“There’s a lot of fields that touch this plant… this industry,” Del Cid said.

Helping Entrepreneurs

The NJCRC has assistance for humble entrepreneurs seeking an adult-use cannabis license.

She noted the 280-E issue whereby licensed companies cannot deduct their business expenses.

“Hopefully, that changes once cannabis becomes federally legal in this country,” Del Cid said.

“Because cannabis, marijuana, is illegal federally… you cannot deduct any business expenses on your fed income tax,” Delgado said. “The difference between staying in business and going out of business is your tax income deduction return.”

He noted it only applies to licensed companies versus ancillaries.

Delgado noted the many expenses involved with securing a license and opening a cannabis company.

Regarding details on cannabis lounges, Del Cid said, “That’s forthcoming. Stay tuned for more information. I know it’s a critical component. Consumers need a safe space to consume cannabis. It’s very important for us to create these safe spaces.”

“That’s part of the evolutionary process here at the CRC. We’re trying to make a car while we’re driving it,” Delgado noted in addition.

Del Cid noted it involves a lot of planning.

“That is one of those evolutionary procedures. We can’t put a date on that. Standby to stand by,” Delgado said about legally infused pastry edibles like pot brownies.

Del Cid noted that soft chewables, better known as gummies, are available in the limited legal New Jersey adult-use cannabis market.

After that, marijuana is a more common term than cannabis, she said in Spanish.

“Cannabis is anything grown… purchased and sold in New Jersey by the legal stores. Marijuana is mostly used for the products that come from the legacy market or the black market,” Del Cid explained.

“Marijuana” was used by Mexican American immigrants. Prohibitionists popularized it to demonize industrial hemp and medical cannabis. Congress made them illegal in 1937. (More on that in my book Cannabis 101!)

Town Cannabis Policy and a Call for Advocacy

“This is a municipal control state, and the municipalities are gonna determine the amount of cannabis businesses in their jurisdictions. We do not have any kind of control over that. We’re having conversations with the municipalities,” she noted. “It’s very important to us to continue to inform the municipalities on how they can help us.”

“We’re continuing these conversations with the municipalities. There’s a social equity component, and it’s incumbent upon the CRC to inform municipalities of the Social Equity component in the law. We can’t twist their arms,” Del Cid added.  

“It is more for you to speak to your mayors, your councilmembers. It’s not easy,” she noted.

“Relationships are everything,” Delgado said.

“Thank you for the time, my children,” he affectionately said in Spanish at the end. “Please continue to engage with your elected officials.”

NJCRC Hearings on Use of Cannabis Tax Revenue

The NJCRC recently held three virtual meetings. They focused on how funds raised from cannabis fees and fines should go to social equity projects.

The Social Equity Excise Fee (SEEF) hearings were held on Zoom at 7 p.m. on November 15th for South Jersey, November 16th for Central Jersey, and November 17th for North Jersey.

Commissioner Krista Nash and Commissioner Charles Barker chaired the meetings. All three meetings were open to the public. The commissioners sought ideas specific to South Jersey on Tuesday, November 15th, Central Jersey on Wednesday, November 16th, and North Jersey on Thursday, November 17th.

Input collected at the meetings and submitted written comments will inform the NJCRC’s recommendations to the Governor and Legislature. The New Jersey Legislature must appropriate investments in designated Impact Zones and other projects.

In addition, Social Equity Excise Fees collected from adult-use cannabis cultivators will also fund social equity investments.

The Commission’s report was submitted to Governor Phil Murphy and the NJ Legislature in June. They held Social Equity Excise Fee hearings in March, where feedback was gathered into the report.

There will be no NJCRC meeting in November. The next meeting on Friday, December 2nd, will be a hybrid in-person/virtual meeting. The agenda is not yet available.

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