NJEDA Cannabis Grant Program Oversubscribed
The NJEDA established the Cannabis Equity Grant Program to give out $6 million in grants to 24 cannabis applicants. The NJEDA previously announced that it was accepting applications on a first come first serve basis as of 9:00 am on April 20, 2023. Based on application confirmation code numbers provided to applicants by the NJEDA today, it appears that by 9:16 am more than 70 applications had been submitted and by 9:45am the NJEDA closed the application portal with this message:
Based on significant interest in the Cannabis Equity – Joint Ventures Grant, the NJEDA has already received applications up to or exceeding the amount of funding available under this program. All submitted applications that are received at this time will be placed on a waitlist and will be reviewed if the NJEDA can determine there is funding available to support the application.
It appears (based on confirmation numbers) that more than 115 applications were submitted in the 45 minutes the portal was open.
This grant program is truly exceptional in the country in terms of its generosity towards aspiring cannabis applicants, and the $250,000 individual grant awards will be a lifeline to many of the 24 winners. The NJEDA has made clear that this is a pilot program and has suggested additional grants will become available in the future.
But the speed with which the grant program became oversubscribed demonstrates one of the critical problems facing New Jersey’s legalized cannabis market – substantial numbers of hopeful applicants simply lack the financial resources to enable their businesses to get off the ground.
When the CREAMM Act was passed, Governor Murphy was quoted as saying “This legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities.” As many in the cannabis industry today celebrate 4/20, this morning’s experience with the NJEDA is a stark reminder that without additional financial assistance from either state or private sources, the equity and economic opportunities for our communities may never be realized.