ACLU-NJ Issues ‘Baseline Cannabis Plan’ for New Regulations to Meet Initial Benchmarks for Justice

August 18, 2021

NEWARK, NJ — The ACLU-NJ today released its Baseline Cannabis Justice Plan, a platform of requirements the state’s new cannabis industry must put in place to meet a basic standard for justice, focusing on how to prioritize meaningful public input in the community reinvestment process, how to create an inclusive and accessible industry, and how to share information with the public. Read the full Baseline Cannabis Justice Plan, which sets out initial ways the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) can implement legalization with equity and justice, here

The ACLU-NJ's Baseline Cannabis Justice Plan calls for: 

  • Equity-focused distribution of funding 
    • Making sure fees specifically go toward reinvestment in communities hit hardest by the drug war, and specifically do not go toward funding of law enforcement, which has been responsible for carrying out the drug war. 
    • Expanded hearings and advisory board to inform the CRC’s recommendations on spending revenue from the social equity excise fee 
    • Dedicated funding and staff for Office of Minority, Disabled Veterans, and Women Cannabis Business Development 
  • Real opportunities in the industry for people impacted by the drug war 
    • Priority applicant status, fee waivers, start-up capital, and other resources to support the participation in the industry of individuals harmed by cannabis criminalization  
    • Hiring requirements for businesses to extend opportunities to individuals from disproportionately impacted municipalities 
    • No artificial limits on licenses 
  • Meaningful public participation, guidance for municipalities, and transparency 
    • Expanded data collection and public reporting on industry diversity  
    • Proactive guidance and information from the state for both the public and municipalities on participating in the cannabis marketplace 

“Legalization was only the first step in undoing the harms and disparities of marijuana enforcement, and it can only succeed if we maintain our focus on equity and racial justice through the process of regulation and beyond,” said ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo. “New Jersey has a pivotal chance to make the real progress that so far has eluded many other states: using revenue with an eye toward justice, presenting real opportunities for people impacted by the drug war to thrive in the cannabis economy, and blanketing New Jersey with reliable information about the new industry. Anything else is a disservice to the New Jerseyans who voted in historic numbers to legalize marijuana to advance racial and social justice.” 

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission, created through legislation to implement cannabis policy in New Jersey, is due to adopt regulations for the new industry on Thursday, Aug. 19 at noon. In New Jersey, before decriminalization, Black people were arrested at a rate 3.45 times greater than that of white people for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates. 

“Community members, advocates, and an overwhelming majority of the public advocated not only to legalize cannabis, but to do so in a way that begins to repair past harms and builds an inclusive and equitable marketplace. We have a duty to make sure that we carry out the will of the voters and make New Jersey a fairer state by implementing justice in every step of legalization,” said ACLU-NJ Campaign Strategist Ami Kachalia

Read the full list of recommendations in the ACLU-NJ's Baseline Cannabis Justice Plan:
https://www.aclu-nj.org/files/7416/2920/8453/ACLUNJ_Cannabis_Equity_Recommendations_Updated.pdf

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