Economic Development

Cannabis Equity Grant Program Application to Launch on 4/20

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

In recognition of 4/20 and National Cannabis Awareness Month, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced that the application for Phase I of its $10 million Cannabis Equity Grant Program will open on Thursday, April 20 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.

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.

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.

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