Singleton, Turner Bill to Support Minority-Owned Cannabis Businesses Passes Senate

Trenton – The Senate today advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Troy Singleton and Shirley K. Turner, which would help minority, women, and disabled-veteran candidates enter the recreational cannabis market by expanding access to capital for those groups.

“We have seen here in New Jersey, and around the country, that legal cannabis businesses tend to lack diversity both in gender and race amongst its ownership ranks. This proposal would aim to level the playing field and generate equity for minorities most impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “It would provide lenders with more opportunities to invest in minority-owned businesses, while allowing owners to maintain majority control over their businesses.

The bill, S-2766, would expand opportunities for larger, more established multi-state cannabis enterprises to invest in minority, women, and disabled-veteran-owned businesses. The bill would allow an investor to own up to a 35 percent interest in up to seven cannabis dispensaries, provided that each dispensary is a certified minority, woman, or disabled-veteran-owned business.

The measure would prohibit investors from gaining controlling interests. To protect against predatory lending, the bill would require the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to review investment agreements as part of the permitting process.

“New Jersey’s cannabis industry is still in its infancy, and we need to act early to provide equal opportunity for all businesses to succeed,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Supporting dispensaries while promoting diversity within the cannabis industry is better for our local economy and also helps to ensure that the profits from recreational cannabis are being funneled back into the communities that need it most.”

Additionally, the bill would require the terms of the investment, such as loan interest or fees for services rendered, to be commercially reasonable. The measure would authorize the CRC to reject a dispensary permit application if the terms are not in accordance with the bill.

The bill was released from the senate by a vote of 26-8.