This family might be able to get a piece of the big business of making money from marijuana.
In part, New Jersey’s new law on marijuana was made so that the state could fix problems in the criminal justice system that disproportionately punishes Black and Latino people for crimes. There are a lot of problems for small-business owners, though, so
Her name is Bessie White. She is 78 years old and wants to make money off of cannabis.
Ms. White, the matriarch of a close-knit extended family, had thought about starting a bail bond business.
Because the state of New Jersey made it legal for people to smoke marijuana, she, her sister, and five of their other relatives changed their minds.
As soon as the application window opens next month, hundreds of entrepreneurs will want to be ready to apply for a New Jersey retail license to sell marijuana. The group is now one of those people.
“You can pass it down from one generation to the next, so that they don’t have to work for someone else,” said Ms. White, who lives in Newark and worked as an accountant for a school district.
In the last year, laws were passed in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut that made it legal for people to smoke marijuana. Part of the goal was to fix problems in the criminal justice system, which disproportionately punishes people of color.
And that’s not the only reason why Ms. White and her family want to start a business from scratch in a new market. They also want to pass on their wealth to their children.
A successful retail shop would also be a way to write a new ending to a story about the war on drugs: In the selection process, black men, like Ms. White’s son, who was charged with low-level drug possession as a teen, are among the groups that have a better chance.
New Jersey also gives extra attention to businesses run by people from other groups, women, and disabled veterans, as well as people from poor areas of the state and those who want to start a business with no more than 10 employees. With this comes the chance for families like the Whites to help achieve the social justice and equity goals that lawmakers have linked to legalization.
Until New Jersey legalized marijuana, black people were more than three times as likely as white people to be charged with possessing the drug, even though both groups used the drug at the same rate. The prisons in the state are thought to be the most racially imbalanced in the country because they jail Black residents almost 13 times more often than white residents.