CRC plans virtual hearings on how to invest social equity fees from cannabis

Kimberly Redmond//January 4, 2023

CRC plans virtual hearings on how to invest social equity fees from cannabis

Kimberly Redmond//January 4, 2023

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) is continuing efforts to collect feedback that will help determine how the state invests social equity excise fees raised from recreational cannabis sales.

In a Jan. 3 announcement, the CRC said its latest round of virtual meetings are scheduled for Jan. 10 and Jan. 18. Proceedings will begin at 7 p.m. and can be viewed online. 

Additionally, those who wish to register to speak or submit written comments may so do by clicking here.

Under the law in New Jersey – which is now home to 21 recreational dispensaries and counting – at least 70% of all tax revenue, including all social equity excise fee revenue, is supposed to be invested in “impact zones,” defined as cities with high crime indexes and unemployment rates.

The latest hearings come as demand for legalized recreational cannabis continues to grow in the Garden State, with sales hitting $116.5 million between July and September of 2022. For the third quarter of the year, the state recorded a 46% increase from the $79.7 million in revenue generated from late April – when the adult-use marketplace opened – through June, according to the CRC.

During the period, the state collected more than $7.7 million in taxes on cannabis sales, up from about $4.6 million the prior quarter.

Since the debut of New Jersey’s legalized cannabis industry, about $225,000 has been collected in social equity excise fee (SEEF) revenue. For fiscal year 2023, the CRC anticipates approximately $3.5 million of revenue to be raised by the SEEF, which is $1.52 per ounce on all cannabis sold.

Moving into the new year, the CRC, which is in charge of regulating the industry and overseeing licensing, wants to see more “local, small business owners participate in this lucrative market,” board Chair Dianna Houenou has said.

“Our priority application process as well as new initiatives like the no-cost Cannabis Training Academy being launched by New Jersey Business Action Center in early 2023 are paving that path for them to be included,” she said.

Entrepreneurs face several challenges when it comes to establishing themselves in a market that is expected to become a more than $2 billion a year industry by 2026. Along with high start-up costs and access to capital, prospective business owners are up against more established, multistate operators who have years of experience and more resources at their disposal.

Based on public feedback the CRC has received so far, as well as the SEEF revenue projections, the state plans to invest funding in grants and low-interest loans for aspiring entrepreneurs in impact zones and economically disadvantaged areas who are looking to break into the cannabis market.