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NJCEA launches to advance equity in New Jersey’s cannabis industry

The New Jersey Cannabis Equity Association ("NJCEA"), a New Jersey nonprofit corporation committed to advancing equity in the Garden State's cannabis industry, announced its launch.

The NJCEA's mission is to assess issues impacting the cannabis industry through the lens of equity, to build consensus among critical stakeholders, and to advance related public policy.

The NJCEA is an inclusive organization open to any individual or entity that is aligned with its critical mission to promote equitable practices and policies in the New Jersey cannabis space.

Interested parties are invited to join as Board-level Members or Caucus-level Members, and a tiered fee structure incentivizes participation from businesses of all sizes and at all stages of development. In the coming weeks, the NJCEA will formalize its first cohort of members, and it will hold its first expanded board meeting in July. At that time, it anticipates a diverse board with trustees that include representatives from consulting groups, marketing agencies, cannabis industry operators, law firms, financial institutions, ancillary cannabis brands, and advocacy organizations, among others.

Sponsors from various sectors are critical to NJCEA's success and provide support for various equity initiatives and programming as well as networking opportunities.

In developing its policy positions, the NJCEA lists six stakeholder groups that it considers, including communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, medical cannabis patients, and the cannabis industry workforce, to name a few.

NJCEA Co-founders and Co-chairs Suzan Nickelson and Susanna Puntel Short have a track record of advocacy and justice-oriented leadership with a firm footing in New Jersey's cannabis industry.

Nickelson worked for 24 years as an employee of the State of New Jersey before heading up the first operational Minority Woman Business Enterprise (M/WBE) medical and adult use cannabis dispensary in the state, Holistic Solutions in Atco. Short leads a WBE consultancy and assists clients at the intersection of cannabis public policy and business strategy. She is a specialty coach for the NJEDA's joint equity grant technical assistance program. Both women have collaborated with and held leadership roles in cannabis trade associations in the state and in D.C. They assert that the NJCEA's mission is complementary to other associations and not competitive.

"Equity is at the heart of what our public policies seek to achieve through cannabis legalization," the NJCEA co-founders state. "But it requires a singular focus and ongoing collaboration to make those policy goals actionable and sustainable. The NJCEA is a beacon that guides our policymakers to advance equity."

NJCEA has selected a New Jersey certified Minority Business Enterprise to provide its government affairs representation, and it has selected a New Jersey certified Women Business Enterprise as its Legal Counsel.

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