Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. issued the following statement today regarding the fact that none of the 56 licenses to sell cannabis in the State of New Jersey have been issued to Black-owned businesses. Medical cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana, has been legal in the state since 2012. Last year, New Jersey legalized marijuana for recreational use and allowed the creation of cannabis stores and shops. But in the 10 years of legalization, not one Black-owned cannabis business has been granted a license, according to the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.
“I am outraged to hear that Black-owned businesses have been shut out of the state’s cannabis marketplace,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. “Black users are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white users, even though overall use for both groups is almost the same. New Jersey has a chance to correct this inequality and allow people abused by the system to finally benefit from it with a fair distribution of cannabis business licenses. Instead, we are seeing the same inequality with these licenses that we see in marijuana arrests. Governor Phil Murphy promised that the state’s cannabis industry would right the wrongs of the past as it concerns social justice. Now, New Jersey needs to uphold this promise. I join the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey in their outrage that this inequality continues to plague our state, our society, and our country.”