Testimony gathered this week during three public hearings by the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission will help determine how officials will invest social equity fees raised from legal weed sales.
Advocates offered plenty of suggestions for the money, from buying baby bonds for low-income newborns and funding Black maternal health care centers to supporting reentry services for people leaving prison and creating a fund to help people harmed by the war on drugs.
“We should reverse how money was shifted from communities and individuals to law enforcement authorities. My education, employment, housing, mobility, wealth, and family stability were all negatively affected by cannabis arrests,” said Joanne Zito. “All while Bergen County and the state required me to pay fees and fines.”
It’s been nearly seven months since the legal marijuana industry launched in New Jersey, which is now home to 20 dispensaries with hundreds more on the way. This week’s hearings marked the second round of public hearings on how to invest social equity fees hosted by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
“This will raise over the years hundreds of millions of dollars in our state and improve people’s lives,” the commission’s executive director Jeff Brown said.
The panel plans to compile public feedback into a report for the governor and Legislature. After reviewing the report, legislators will recommend specific investments to the commission, including how much should be allocated.