NJ-CRC working to ensure equity, social justice is a part of legal marijuana industry
As legal marijuana sales begin in New Jersey, one hurdle the state needs to tackle is to ensure that there is diversity and inclusion in the industry.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission reported a trouble-free first day for sales. The day was years in the making.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted, “New Jersey's adult-use recreational cannabis market will stand as a model for the entire nation ensuring racial, social and economic equity and justice.”
But is the state there yet? Some say New Jersey is not, but say that they remain optimistic.
“I don't think we're quite there yet,” says Cathy Bataille, of Maplewood. “And even now you see some pushback, but I think that will come and that will be a good thing.”
The CRC says it has already approved 102 conditional licenses to sell recreational marijuana. Of those licenses, more than 60% have self-identified as people of color and 56 businesses are certified minority-owned.
“Social equity folks, justice-involved folks who had previous misdemeanor charges, or a felony indictment charge, are a part of our social equity queue, and they are at the top of the list of applicants,” says Wesley McWhite, inclusion director for the CRC.
The commission says it wants to ensure social equity applicants that the process is designed with them in mind.
“As the market starts to look more like New Jersey, it is going to be our responsibility, the responsibility of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, to make sure that those most affected by the war on drugs - our social equity folks, minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses and disabled veteran-owned businesses - are informed about the process,” says McWhite.
The CRC says any time a social equity applicant fills out an application, they're automatically put at the top of the list. The commission also says this is to make it easier for applicants to be active players in the recreational marijuana industry.