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New Jersey Awards 48 Seed Equity Cannabis Business Grants

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA) Seed Equity Grant Program awarded 48 grants to social equity cannabis applicants in May 2024. The Cannabis Equity Grant Program, which is part of the larger Seed Equity Grant Program “is aimed at assisting start-ups by providing businesses with grant funding for early-stage start-up expenses and operational costs.”

“A new wave of entrepreneurial talent is ready to transform New Jersey’s cannabis industry as 48 recipients of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA) Seed Equity Grant Program proudly graduated from a rigorous nine-week Cannabis Technical Assistance Program (CTAP) at a celebration held at Hub 13 in Trenton last month.” NJEDA stated in a press release.

“Under Governor Phil Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is creating a strong, equitable, and inclusive cannabis industry that will create jobs and revitalize communities,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “For too long, the War on Drugs has disproportionately impacted communities of color. The Seed Equity Grant was designed to support diverse cannabis entrepreneurs who have been harmed by years of unjust policies and help unlock access to the cannabis market to ensure they reap the industry’s economic benefits. I congratulate the graduates and look forward to their success in New Jersey’s cannabis industry.”

“The Seed Equity Grant Program and the CTAP are part of Phase II of the Cannabis Equity Grant Program, which the NJEDA Board approved in 2022. All of the funding for Phase II was awarded to qualifying social equity applicants as designated by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, including those who live in economically disadvantaged areas or have cannabis-related convictions. The combination of training, education, and financial support further catalyzes investments in historically underserved communities and those most affected by the War on Drugs.” NJEDA stated.

“We are immensely proud to see NJEDA’s Seed Equity Grant recipients graduating from the Cannabis Technical Assistance Program. Congratulations to the graduates; we look forward to your continued success and positive impact in the cannabis industry,” said Wesley McWhite III, Director, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

“It was an honor to attend and speak to the graduates of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Cannabis Seed Equity Grant Program,” said State Senator Troy Singleton.  “This program, open to recreational cannabis license holders, helps to support new businesses in this industry by assisting with their operational and start-up costs. This Seed Equity will literally set these entrepreneurs up for success and I was proud to celebrate and acknowledge their efforts.”

According to the NJEDA press release, “The NJEDA selected Oaksterdam University, a pioneering institution in cannabis entrepreneurship, to develop and administer the customized technical assistance program. The CTAP delivered curriculum on converting a conditional license to an annual license, building a cannabis business team, financial management, securing investors, supply chain management, and more. The program included in-person workshops, interactive virtual classes, online learning modules, individualized coaching, and networking opportunities.”

“Oaksterdam crafted an intensive Technical Assistance Program for the NJEDA with local and national experts to help mitigate risks for long-term sustainability, and the participants leaned in. These small business owners are tenacious, and will become the backbone of New Jersey’s industry,” said Dale Sky Jones, Executive Chancellor of Oaksterdam University.

“This program really is monumental and meaningful for me. For me, I’m at the tail end and close to opening my dispensary [and] being a recipient of this grant from the NJEDA makes such a big difference,” said Tahir Johnson, grant recipient and owner of Simply Pure, located in Trenton. “Having raised money myself and being in this battle for over two years to get my business open, literally this money is coming right at the time when I need it the most, and I probably couldn’t go anywhere else for it. This money from NJEDA is going be what gets me over the finish line.”

New Jersey’s 130 licensed adult-use cannabis dispensaries sold roughly $201 million in recreational cannabis sales during the first three months of 2024, about 4.4% more than what was sold during the last quarter of 2023. Legal recreational cannabis sales totaled $192.6 million in New Jersey during the last quarter of 2023.

“New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market sales for the first quarter of 2024 totaled more than $201 million — a 38% increase compared to the same period last year. Sales from January to March 2023 were generated by 24 licensed dispensaries, whereas that number increased by 96, to a total of 130 licensed dispensaries, in the same time period in 2024.” the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission stated in a recent press release.

The first legal purchase of adult-use cannabis in New Jersey occurred on April 21, 2022. Since that time, New Jersey’s cannabis industry has increased in size and value to a considerable extent. In addition to recreational sales, New Jersey also permits medical cannabis sales.

“In 2023, New Jersey saw cannabis sales of more than $800 million. With new local cultivators and manufacturers beginning operations, we expect to reach $1 billion in 2024.  Ancillary services like accounting, marketing, construction, security, legal services, and real estate that support the industry may generate $1.5 to $2 billion in taxable revenue for opted-in municipalities.” the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission stated in a news release that celebrated the two year anniversary of recreational sales in the state.

While New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis industry continues to grow, the state’s registered medical cannabis patient base continues to decline, which is a common phenomenon among states that launched a medical cannabis industry prior to the state legalizing adult-use sales.

“As of April 15, around 80,000 medical patients remain in the state’s medical cannabis program, which began in January 2010. Enrollment peaked in May 2022 at more than 129,000 people, before steadily dropping amid the opening of recreational cannabis stores, according to state data. Sales of medical marijuana have also plummeted, with about $226 million in sales in 2022, compared to $124 million in 2023. And recreational sales brought in over $675 million last year—almost five times as much revenue as medicinal, state data shows.” Marijuana Moment reported in its original coverage of New Jersey’s medical cannabis industry.