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NJCRC Holds Brief Virtual Social Equity Excise Fee Hearing

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) held a North Jersey-centered Zoom on how Social Equity Excise fee money should be used.

Getting money back to the communities most harmed by marijuana prohibition has been an important goal of New Jersey cannabis advocates.

The NJCRC previously held hearings on spending the money last year. Some cannabis tax revenue money has already been used to help non-profits operating in troubled areas.

NJCRC Executive Director Jeff Brown moderated the hearing. He said people can also submit written comments until Friday.

Spending Social Equity Excise Fee Revenue

While the NJCRC collects millions of dollars in tax revenue, application fees, and fines, the hearing was only about the Social Excise fee collected.

“The CRC does not… decide how those funds get spent. We really make recommendations,” Brown explained.

Their recommendations go to a report to the Governor and the Legislature.

The Social Equity Excise fee money enters the Social Equity Excise Fund (SEEF). The SEEF fee is 1/3 of 1 percent of the average retail price of an ounce of legal adult-use cannabis.

The retail price of legal New Jersey adult-use cannabis per ounce was $373 last year. So, the fee was set at $1.24 an ounce. Last year, they raised about $3 million.

“We really expect that to increase. As the average retail price drops, the Social Equity Excise fee increases,” Brown noted.

It could go up to $10 an ounce. That means the State of New Jersey will get even more money to invest.

He explained that the money can be used for a wide range of things.

Brown then opened up the forum.

Short Hearing

New Jersey cannabis attorney and advocate Chirali Patel was the only one who spoke.

“I have spoken for the need for a free technical assistance program and grant dollars,” she noted.

She was happy about the progress made with that, especially the grants.

Patel did not note the money did not all go to majority New Jersey resident-owned businesses. The State was very happy to award minority and women-owned businesses from elsewhere while many local cannabis companies are shutting down before really opening due to red tape and lack of money.

She wanted more money for grants for Social Equity license applicants.

Social Equity license applicants are the most likely to be New Jersey residents affected by the War on Drugs and underground legacy to legal applicants. They are “Goldilocks” many want to see enter the legal adult-use New Jersey cannabis market.

Patel was especially passionate about helping felons returning citizens with getting a job, housing, and legal issues among others.

“Part of the goal of legalization… was to help them,” she argued.

Patel explains she hosts many expungement clinics. Criminal records prevent them from succeeding often. She wanted all such barriers removed.

“Funding needs to go to programs providing meals to returning citizens,” she added.

Unfortunately, she was the only one who testified, so it lasted less than an hour.

Brown added there will be more Social Equity Fee hearings tomorrow at 10 AM for Central Jersey and Thursday at 1 PM for South Jersey giving people more opportunity to speak.

But holding them during the day when most work from about 9-5 is not beneficial to getting many people to give their opinions.

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