New Jersey wants to help you start a marijuana business

TRENTON – New Jersey, through its Business Action Center, plans to establish a cannabis training academy to help small businesses get started in the industry.

The initiative is funded by the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission through a portion of sales tax revenue generated from the sale of recreational marijuana. It will be launched in the first half of 2023.

Melanie Willoughby, executive director of the New Jersey Business Action Center, said the academy will offer free technical assistance, training, and mentoring to applicants for recreational marijuana business licenses.

“We feel this is really important to ensure applicants in the Social Justice, Legacy, Impact Zone, Diversity Owners and Microenterprise categories get the support they need,” Willoughby said. “Your successful participation is critical to ensure truly balanced representation of small and diverse cannabis companies and entrepreneurs.”

“We believe this assistance is an essential part of our work to truly repair the damage done to people and communities who have been marginalized and mass criminalized during the state’s cannabis prohibition,” she said.

Willougby said her office has been working with industry groups for months on what should be included in the Cannabis Training Academy.

It will have a 10-week core curriculum consisting of pre-recorded webinars followed by live question-and-answer sessions twice a month. The state invites people working in the industry to apply to njstart.gov to be mentors.

“We really think that mentoring aspect is very, very important so that people can see what their needs are and where we can help answer those questions,” Willoughby said.

“For those who are new to this, we want to be there for them,” she said.

Registration for the academy has not yet opened, but the state has created a sign-up list for receiving updates.

So far, all New Jersey businesses that have been selling recreational marijuana since its launch in April are corporate medical dispensaries that have received permission to expand their operations. As of this week, 20 are currently selling marijuana to all adults.

The state has approved 801 conditional licenses for recreational marijuana businesses, though none have yet received operating licenses to actually open their doors.

Eighteen applications for the annual licenses were approved last week, but these companies – including eight growers, seven retailers and three manufacturers – need more information to actually obtain their licenses.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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