Black entrepreneurs are outraged that New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) has not awarded any cannabis licenses to any of the state’s Black entrepreneurs.
"Based on conversations I've had, with stakeholders, out of the 56 licenses awarded to date, none has been awarded to a Black-owned business. People need to know what’s going on,” said the Founder, President and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM. “Many Black-owned businesses have been trying to get into the cannabis industry since 2012 when cannabis for medicinal purposes became legal in New Jersey. No Black-owned business received a license back then, and none has received a license since the legalization of cannabis for recreational use thus far,” Harmon stated. “It’s a costly proposition for Black license applicants to wait indefinitely while the CRC drags its feet in awarding licenses.” Harmon is primarily referring to the CRC’s requirement that license applicants maintain site control while the CRC considers their applications. In other words, applicants must have legal access to and control of the real estate at which their businesses will be operated. This means that many applicants are hit with mounting monthly lease payments which cannot be deducted as a business expense. Since the United States federal government does not recognize cannabis as a legal industry, expenses incurred in connection with cannabis activity cannot be deducted as a legitimate business expense. “The CRC needs to expedite its review and award of the licenses submitted. Minimally, the CRC must immediately score and notify applicants of their conditional status,” demanded Harmon. “If necessary, additional resources must be allocated to the license review process so that applicants cease to be adversely impacted financially by an unjustifiably protracted process,” he insisted. “In his second inaugural address, Gov. Murphy touted the creation of the cannabis industry in the name of social justice. The clock is ticking, and social justice remains denied to Black entrepreneurs seeking licenses to operate in the cannabis space,” Harmon declared. “The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey is tired of watching and waiting. We urge Gov. Murphy to exert his influence to speed up the licensing process and award licenses to Black entrepreneurs in the name of social justice.”