The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) has made a recommendation to the Department of the Treasury to fund a Cannabis Training Academy. The program is to be run by the Department of State’s Business Action Center (NJBAC) to provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs establishing cannabis businesses in New Jersey.
The NJ-CRC’s Audit Committee recommended that funds from the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization (CREAMM) Fund be allocated to the Business Action Center to establish a new program to provide free educational courses, technical assistance in building business plans and completing other aspects of license applications, and mentorship to cannabis business owners.
Commission Vice-chair Sam Delgado, who sits on the Audit Committee, expressed his pleasure with the program that will launch next year. “We have emphasized equity and accessibility in the application process and this program will help ensure aspiring entrepreneurs have the optimal business know-how to give them the best chance for success in the cannabis space. The Cannabis Training Academy will begin the needed training and guidance that will help individuals, and assist the budding market’s stability and success.”
“Supporting these new entrepreneurs to be successful is critical to ensure equitable representation of small and diverse cannabis businesses and owners,” Secretary of State Tahesha Way added. “This assistance is essential to help people and communities that were targeted during cannabis prohibition to achieve greater equality, access and participation and improve their lives, families and communities.”
The NJBAC’s proposed curriculum includes modules designed to help participants decide if a cannabis business is right for them and will include business plan development as well as a Legacy to Legal course. Some program resources will be targeted to “Specially Designated Categories,” which include social equity businesses, diversely owned businesses, microbusinesses, and Impact Zone businesses. There will be a 10-week accelerator track to take conditional license applicants through the initial application process, and a separate track to them convert to annual licenses.
“Classes in the academy will be taught by faculty who are in or have taught or consulted to the cannabis industry,” said NJBAC Executive Director Melanie Willoughby. “For 40 years, NJBAC has provided real-time assistance and support to businesses to help them navigate state government and connect with helpful resources. We look forward to building on our small business advocacy work to support this emerging marketplace.”
Josh Belle, an advocate for legacy cannabis entrepreneurs, applauded the announcement. “Having this program designed specifically for cannabis business owners is going to be major for a lot of entrepreneurs who have the heart and the commitment for the industry but could use some help with the technical training. It is great that it is free too. Starting a business is expensive enough and there are too many consultants and such taking advantage of cannabis business owners.”
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