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Press Release
April 12, 2023
3 minute read

NJEDA to Launch Cannabis Equity Grant Program Application on 4/20


The Phase I Joint Ventures Grant will award $250,000 to eligible recreational cannabis businesses

TRENTON, N.J. (April 12, 2023) — In recognition of 4/20 and National Cannabis Awareness Month, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced yesterday that the application for Phase I of its $10 million Cannabis Equity Grant Program will open on Thursday, April 20, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. The Phase I Joint Ventures Grant will provide eligible startups with a grant of $250,000.

The Cannabis Equity Grant Program is focused on supporting businesses and startups in the recreational cannabis industry and ensuring communities that were adversely impacted by the War on Drugs have equitable access to the industry. To this end, 40 percent of the Phase 1 Joint Ventures Grant funding is reserved for qualifying social equity applicants primarily characterized as those who have previous cannabis convictions or live in economically disadvantaged areas. Additionally, 5 percent of the total program funding is reserved for businesses located in Impact Zones, which are areas targeted based on previous levels of marijuana arrests, population, unemployment rates, and other socioeconomic factors.

“Since cannabis legalization more than two years ago, the NJEDA has had impactful discussions with cannabis startups, community leaders, and advocates in order to create a program that brings equity and economic opportunity to communities and individuals who have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “This program will not only ensure equitable access to capital, but also spur economic growth and job creation in communities across the state. The NJEDA is committed to supporting entrepreneurs in this growing industry, which will help bring us closer towards Governor Murphy’s goal of creating a stronger, fairer New Jersey.” 

“While the cannabis industry is continuing to thrive and expand, we must ensure that those most negatively impacted by the War on Drugs are not locked out of the industry. A primary focus of the Cannabis Equity Grant Program is to help address this inequity by supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said NJEDA Chief Community Development Officer Tai Cooper. “Cannabis entrepreneurship opportunities can play a crucial role in returning wealth to individuals and communities that have unfairly suffered as a result of the criminalization of cannabis. Ensuring access to these opportunities will help create jobs and bolster New Jersey’s entire economy.”

The Joint Ventures Grant will allocate a total of $6 million in funding to 24 entities that have a conditional or annual license, have obtained site control over their real estate, and have municipal approval. The goal of the Joint Ventures Grant is to support businesses that do not need technical assistance but still have carrying costs and capital issues associated with converting their conditional license to an annual license. This grant will be disbursed in two rounds with the first allocation in the amount of $100,000 occurring upon the execution of the grant agreement. The second disbursement of $150,000 will occur once the grantee receives its annual license and demonstrates that it utilized the first disbursement for eligible costs.

A free eligibility assessment tool is available online for those looking to verify if their business meets the requirements. Eligible applicants must have formed their business after March 9, 2020, and employ 50 or fewer full-time employees. Eligible uses for the Joint Ventures Grant include expenses such as rent and mortgage payments, payroll and independent contractors, utilities, legal, accounting, marketing, and more. To learn more about the program and the eligibility requirements, visit the NJEDA website.

Applicants who are not eligible for the Joint Ventures Grant may qualify for Phase II of the program that will launch later this year. The Phase II Seed Equity Grant of $150,000 is solely for applicants who meet the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s criteria for social equity and have obtained a conditional license but have not secured the real estate or municipal approval and need assistance in converting their conditional license to an annual license. Additionally, all applicants who do not qualify for the Phase I grant will be connected to training and other programmatic resources.

About NJEDA

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses, call NJEDA Customer Care at 844-965-1125 or visit www.njeda.gov and follow @NewJerseyEDA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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