Pioneering Progress: NJ’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission Gives Priority to Social Equity Businesses


In a landmark decision that reflects our shared ethos of social justice and equity, New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission has taken a decisive step to level the playing field in the cannabis industry.

Priority to Social Equity Businesses

From September 27, for a year, the Commission will exclusively consider requests for specific licenses – wholesaler, distributor, and delivery service class licenses – from ‘social equity applicants’. This term represents those individuals who have had prior marijuana-related convictions or hail from economically disadvantaged regions.

Why This Matters

Commissioner Charles Barker, a driving force behind this initiative, voiced concern about the insufficient progress made towards supporting social equity businesses since the launch of New Jersey’s recreational marijuana market in April 2022. Barker emphasized that the businesses and communities most affected by the failed war on drugs are yet to see significant benefits.

The Difference between Social Equity and Diverse Ownership

The Commission has drawn a distinction between social equity applicants and diversely owned businesses – those owned by women, minorities, or disabled veterans. Despite their prioritized status under New Jersey’s marijuana legalization law, these diversified businesses may not necessarily be owned by those most affected by the war on drugs.

Implications of the Decision

Following this decision, non-social equity applicants will face rejection until September 27, 2024. However, this will not impact applicants seeking cultivation, manufacturing, or retail licenses.


As a nonprofit organization dedicated to social justice and equitable opportunities, we laud this milestone decision by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission. This shift towards prioritizing social equity businesses for certain cannabis licenses is a significant stride towards rectifying the inequities borne from the war on drugs and establishing a more inclusive future for New Jersey’s cannabis market. We stand committed to observing and supporting similar transformations in other sectors, underlining our ongoing mission to champion social equity.

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard