Ruiz, Singleton Bill To Use Cannabis Revenue To Uplift Communities, Shrink Achievement Gap Advances

Trenton - Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Troy Singleton, which would create the New Jersey Community Learning Program to support the provision of comprehensive extended learning time programs in areas most impacted by the criminalization of cannabis, cleared the Senate today. The programs would be funded by revenue collected from the sale of recreational cannabis.

“The criminalization of cannabis has had a severe, generational impact on the well-being of African American and Latinx communities around the state. It is only right that revenue generated from legalization should be funneled back into those neighborhoods that were disproportionally harmed by marijuana prohibition and its discriminatory enforcement,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex), chair of the Senate Education Committee. “A solid education is the greatest equalizer we have and the best avenue we have to ensure a more equitable future for the children of New Jersey. By confronting the disparities within our education system we can invest in meaningful programming to address them and begin to shrink the achievement gap plaguing our state.”

Under the bill, S-3213, every school district located within an impact zone would be required to establish and implement an extended learning time school community program. These programs would endeavor to close the achievement gap by providing services for enrolled students during non-school hours, including before and after school, on weekends, and during summer and holiday breaks.

“This legislation will work to uplift those impacted by the collateral consequences of the War on Drugs, through educational programs, so we can begin to undo the generational harm done by these policies and ensure a more equitable future for our children,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington), chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “This will help to right the wrongs of those policies by working to close the learning gap in these communities.”

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 34-5.