Social Equity

Social Equity Definition / Criteria

  • i. Previous Cannabis Conviction:
  • ii. Income:
  • iii. State Residency:
  • iv. Qualifying Neighborhood / Municipal Residency:

Within New Jersey’s adult use framework “Social equity business” means a license applicant or license holder that meets one of the following criteria:

  1. More than 50 percent of the ownership interest is held by one or more persons that fit one of the following criteria:
  2. have lived in an economically disadvantaged area for five of the 10 preceding years; and
  3. a member of a household that has a household income that is 80 percent or less of the average median household income in the State, or
  4. More than 50 percent of the ownership interest  is held by one or more persons who are eligible to be pronounced rehabilitated in accordance with N.J.A.C. 17:30-7.12(e), if necessary, and have been convicted of, (whether expunged or not):
  5. At least two marijuana- or hashish-related disorderly persons offenses; or
  6. At least one marijuana- or hashish-related indictable offense.

Social Equity Provisions

In New Jersey, the office of cannabis management will conduct advertising and promotional campaigns, and disseminate information to the public, to increase awareness for participation in the medical cannabis and personal use cannabis industries by persons from socially and economically disadvantaged communities. The office will sponsor seminars and informational programs, and will provide information on the commission’s Internet website, providing practical information concerning the medical cannabis and personal use cannabis industries, including information on business management, marketing, and other related matters. Priority in licensing will be given to Social equity businesses, diversely owned businesses, and impact zone businesses. Microbusiness applications, which receive a 50% discount on relevant fees, will have priority standard business type applications.

License Priorities and Set Asides

  • License Priorities / Set Asides:

The following prioritizations will take place when scoring applications and distributing New Jersey’s adult use cannabis licenses: 

  1. Social equity businesses, diversely owned businesses, and impact zone businesses always have priority over other license applicants;
  2. Microbusinesses license applicants always have priority over standard cannabis business license applicants;

Additionally, New Jersey has a goal of distributing no less than 30% of the total number of adult use licenses to  minority, women’s, and disabled veterans’ businesses.

Fee Waivers and Reductions

  • Fee Waivers / Reductions:

New Jersey has not yet defined it’s fee waivers and reductions that may be available to social equity applicants. However micro businesses are given a 50 percent discount on licensing and application fees.

Other Financial Support for Social Equity Applicants and Licensees

New Jersey has not yet specified how much money will be used to support its social equity cannabis licensing program, nor whether the funds will be made available at the start of adult use sales.  However the state imposes a “social equity excise fee” on cultivators which will be deposited in the “Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Fund” and used to support various social equity activities including cannabis  licensing support, grants to community based nonprofits and local jurisdictions.