New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin recently revealed an initiative that provides a total of $15 million to support Community-Based Violence Intervention (CBVI) programs, a portion of which comes from a dedicated cannabis tax fund.

According to a press release, Murphy has helped facilitate the use of more than $40 million into CVBI programs since 2021. This year, the initiative will receive $5 million from the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Fund.

“For far too long, pockets of our state have been scarred by violence. And, since day one of our Administration, we have been committed to solving this problem,” Murphy said in a press statement. “Through initiatives such as the [CBVI] Programs, we have made great strides on that pledge. I am incredibly grateful for Attorney General Platkin and his team’s steadfast dedication to reducing violence in our state and creating a safer community for all.”

CBVI programs include “interventions and protective activities” in areas where violence is most prevalent. “Through this public health approach to interrupt cycles of violence, and with a focus on reducing gun violence, CBVI initiatives include a range of strategies: mentoring programs, street outreach, trauma support services, de-escalation among high-risk individuals, targeted afterschool programs, job training, and more,” a press release stated.

“Keeping New Jersey’s residents safe is my top priority. Our comprehensive approach to public safety focuses support for community-led violence intervention efforts that are disrupting cycles of violence at the ground level,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Thanks to the leadership and support of Gov. Murphy, we are continuing the State’s historic investment and commitment to this essential work. These funds continue to put resources in the hands of grassroots organizations so that communities are part of our public safety mission.”

To receive a portion of available funds (up to $750,000), applicants must demonstrate a history of success in their work with violence intervention. Interested applicants may apply through the Department of Law and Public Safety between now and Sept. 26, for one of two categories. First, “Tertiary Prevention,” which offers services such as “de-escalation or mediation between individuals and groups, high risk individuals, mentorship” and has street outreach teams ready to take action. The second, “Primary or Secondary Prevention,” implements violence prevention strategies for at risk areas with high violence records.

This is currently the third year that the state has provided CBVI funds and has expanded to include 31 community organizations across the state. In 2022, New Jersey’s CBVI program offered up a portion of $20 million to serve violence intervention efforts, and in 2021 the state offered $10 million.

Other states in the U.S. also have dedicated cannabis tax funds to benefit local organizations. In May, the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced a wave of organizations who applied and were approved to receive a portion of $48 million that was generated by cannabis tax revenue. Organizations such as Centers for Equity and Success, Inc., Shields for Families, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, UnCommon Law, and the Monterey County Health Department. Other grants including First Place for Youth, Goodwill of the San Francisco Bay, and United Friends of the Children were selected.

In April 2020, GO-Biz began this annual program by offering up $30 million for approved grant recipients. In 2022, the amount increased to $35.5 million, which was given to 58 grant recipients. The state has already begun the application process as of Aug. 14. and a due date of Sept. 18, with the 2024 grants being announced in May 2024. All recipients have three years following these awards to spend the funds.

In June, the California Department of Cannabis Control also announced that $4.1 million will go toward 18 local governments through the Local Jurisdiction Retail Access Grant. The distribution included various cities and counties, such as the city of Riverside and Los Angeles County, to develop individual government cannabis licensing programs (limited only to cities and/or counties that have not opted out of allowing cannabis businesses).

Gov. Murphy signed the state’s adult-use cannabis into law in February 2021 (officially called the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act). Adult-use cannabis sales went live in April 2022, and after one year passed, the state had 24 licensed cannabis businesses in operation (versus the 13 that it began with).

Sales data from Q3 of 2022 recorded more than $100 million in adult-use cannabis sales. “New Jersey is only seeing the beginning of what is possible for cannabis,” said New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission Executive Director Jeff Brown. “We have now awarded 36 annual licenses for recreational cannabis businesses to New Jersey entrepreneurs, including 15 for dispensaries. Those businesses alone will be a significant growth of the market. With more locations and greater competition, we expect the customer base to grow and prices to come down.” 

According to the most recent data published from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, Q1 of 2023 yielded $474, 407,516 in recreational cannabis gross receipts, and $204,731,182 in medical cannabis gross receipts.

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