Another feature of New Jersey’s legalization effort designed to level the playing field for small-business applicants is the creation of conditional licenses. That gives an applicant approved by the cannabis commission 120 days to find a town and a property where the business can locate.
With a conditional license in hand, an applicant might be able to attract money from investors or “a town might roll out the red carpet because it wants a winner as opposed to an applicant,” said William Caruso, managing director at Archer Public Affairs, a lobbying firm.
Some towns have taken pains in their ordinances to foster racial diversity in the industry.
Willingboro, a majority-Black township in Burlington County, wanted to increase the chances that its residents could benefit from starting a marijuana business there by offering discounts on the local fee structure, said Samantha Whitfield, a township councilwoman.
The township has high application fees — up to $60,000 — but allows “a reduction in fees if you are a resident of the municipality, if you employ residents within the municipality, and also if you are a Black- or a minority-owned business, [and] if you are a woman-owned business,” Whitfield said.