New Jersey awards $12 million in grants to marijuana businesses

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The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) awarded $12 million in grants to 48 marijuana businesses under the state’s new Cannabis Equity Grant Program.

Officials originally earmarked $250,000 grants each for 24 businesses, but additional funding made available by Gov. Phil Murphy meant another 24 recipients were able to benefit, according to a news release.

Phase 1 of the program, dubbed the Joint Ventures Grant, aims to help entrepreneurs cover the cost of transitioning from a temporary, or conditional, license to an annual permit, the release noted.

Social equity applicants received 40% of this round of funding and 5% are businesses located in “Impact Zones,” or communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

“The Cannabis Equity Grant Program allows us to simultaneously expand the pool of cannabis businesses in our state while also focusing on those communities most impacted by the unethical War on Drugs,” Gov. Murphy said in a statement.

“As we work to create a stronger, fairer, and more equitable cannabis market, our Administration will continue to increase access and opportunity to the small businesses entering the industry.”

The next round of funding, called the Seed Equity Grant, will launch later this year.

Social equity applicants will receive 100% of the $150,000 grants in addition to “technical assistance,” such as training, recruiting and developing supply-chain management.

Sales of adult-use cannabis in New Jersey launched in April 2022.

The state’s Cannabis Trade Association published an August report saying the industry was caught in a “doom loop” because of a slow licensing process, delta-8 THC products and weak illicit-market enforcement.