New Jersey Officials To Put $5.5 Million In Cannabis Revenue Toward Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program

New Jersey officials have announced the availability of $5.5 million in marijuana revenue to support a hospital-based violence intervention grants program.

Grants will be awarded beginning next year, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin (D) said in a press release. Launched in 2020, the New Jersey Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program connects survivors of violent crime, including gun violence, with community-based organizations that provide support services “starting at their bedside.”

“These innovative violence intervention programs allow providers to tend to vulnerable victims of violent crimes in the early days of their road to recovery in order to break the patterns of violence that have tragically taken the lives of too many New Jerseyans,” the governor said in a statement. “We will continue to do what we can to support this work to prevent and overcome violence in our communities across the state.”

The original funding for the program came from federal funds, and the state received an additional $10 million infusion through the American Rescue Plan last year. But officials are now using cannabis impact zone funding from the state’s Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Fund, which was created to reinvest in communities most impacted by marijuana criminalization.

Last month Murphy and Platkin announced that the same cannabis fund would cover a third of a separate $15-million grant program aimed at interrupting and preventing violent crime. The fund, which was established through the state’s marijuana legalization law, consists of monies from taxes on legal sales, industry fees and civil penalties.

Platkin said that hospital-based programs “are essential aspects of our comprehensive approach to public safety, and they empower communities to interrupt cycles of victimization and violence.”

“Through this funding, we are making clear that we will use every tool and resource available to combat gun violence and violent crime that affects too many of our communities,” he said in a press release.

Hospital-based service providers can apply for the new round of funding through October 18. Applicants can seek no more than $995,000 per project. An informational webinar is scheduled for September 29, which the state says will be recorded and posted online by October 3.

New Jersey is among a majority of states with legal cannabis that route at least some portion of revenue toward community reinvestment.

California last month announced it was opening applications for $48 million in marijuana tax-funded community reinvestment grants, which support job placement, legal assistance, treatment of mental health and substance use disorders, referrals to medical care and other services for communities that have been disproportionately affected by the drug war. That program, which awards grants of up to $3 million, is funded exclusively through state cannabis revenue.

In June, California regulators at the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) announced the award of $4.1 million to 18 local governments through a first-of-its-kind program to support cannabis business licensing programs and curb the illicit market.

DCC also recently awarded nearly $20 million in research grants, funded by marijuana tax revenue, to 16 academic institutions to carry out studies into cannabis—including novel cannabinoids like delta-8 THC and the genetics of the state’s numerous “legacy” strains. And in February, state officials announced the award of $15 million in grants to support local efforts to promote equity in the marijuana industry.

Meanwhile, Illinois paid out $45 million in grants last year under its Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program, which was established under the state’s adult-use cannabis legalization law. Funds went to 148 programs run by organizations operating on relatively small budgets in communities designated as socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Arizona sets aside 10 percent of marijuana tax revenue for a justice redevelopment fund, which funds public health services, counseling, job training and other social services for communities that have been adversely affected by marijuana arrests and criminalization. Applications for the state’s first round of grants under that program became available in March.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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