Rutgers Law program to help minority entrepreneurs get into NJ cannabis industry

Less than 2% of U.S. cannabis companies are Black-owned, something the program aims to change in the state
Recreational cannabis.
Photo credit UrosPoteko/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)Rutgers Law School and New Jersey-based Minority Cannabis Academy are teaming up to help expand access to the Garden State’s growing recreational cannabis industry.

Minority Cannabis Academy Co-Founder Brendon Robinson said Black and brown people are not represented properly in the industry.

“Whether it be from a C suite level, entrepreneur level, or even an entry-level position, we want to come out and do our best to kind of help folks get ingratiated into the industry,” said Robinson.

Brendon Robinson, co-founder of Minority Cannabis Academy.
Brendon Robinson, co-founder of Minority Cannabis Academy. Photo credit Brendon Robinson

Rutgers Law School’s Certificate in Cannabis Law and Business is a six-month program that ensures people entering the market have the information they need to run legally-compliant businesses.

The program is designed to expand access to cannabis-related educational programming for disenfranchised communities impacted by the “war on drugs.” Each cohort can accommodate 25 students.

Assistant Dean of New Programs Vanessa Williams said this collaboration will make an impact in the state’s legal marijuana industry.

“For us to be involved with MCA and be able to support their students in this way is a really, really important move for us in terms of the mission of the law school, in terms of the mission of the program,” said Williams.

Rutgers Law School Assistant Dean of New Programs Vanessa Williams.
Rutgers Law School Assistant Dean of New Programs Vanessa Williams. Photo credit Vanessa Williams

“We know that the cannabis industry is changing. Every day regulations are changing. So our program is designed so that it can evolve and respond to the needs of the industry.”

Robinson says cannabis is a highly-regulated, highly-compliant industry, so individuals must have the business acumen down.

“If your compliance isn't down, if your ADA handling isn't down, if you don't understand trademarks and things, if you don't understand the business of the business, you're not going to be sustained,” said Robinson.

Less than 2% of the nation’s cannabis companies are Black-owned. The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission gives priority review to applications defined as “diversely owned.”

There are currently 30 dispensaries in the state, with 20 offering recreational marijuana. Six dispensaries are located in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties, with five offering recreational marijuana.

Robinson hopes that as the industry continues to grow, more minority businesses will develop.

Featured Image Photo Credit: UrosPoteko/Getty Images