TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Brian Bergen encouraged members of Wednesday’s Assembly Health Committee to advance his bill that would promote business growth by helping first-time entrepreneurs gain the capital needed to open medical marijuana dispensaries.
“Only people with a lot of money could open up one of these dispensaries. It’s just not possible unless you have a lot of money in the bank,” Bergen (R-Morris) told the committee. “Starting a business is near impossible nowadays. This bill allows entrepreneurs to come into this fresh new industry and gives them a shot.”
The committee cleared the legislation (A5179) that would incentivize investors to cover the start-up costs for dispensary businesses owned by minorities, women and disabled veterans.
“It also is thoughtful enough to make sure those investors aren’t predatory and it restricts them to only a certain portion of ownership,” he continued. “It’s not a marijuana bill, it’s a business bill.”
Under current law, individuals and investors cannot simultaneously hold more than one medical marijuana cultivator, manufacturer, or dispensary permit. Bergen’s bill allows an investor or investment fund or group providing significant financial or technical assistance to hold up to a 35 percent interest in up to seven medical marijuana businesses owned by minorities, women, or disabled veterans.
Depending on the value of the assistance, medical marijuana businesses would have no less than five, seven or ten years to pay back the full amount with interest. The investor would be allowed to maintain ownership interests after the full value of the assistance is repaid; however, they cannot have a controlling interest in the business. In the event of a default, controlling interest could only be transferred to another certified minority, women’s or disabled-veterans’ business.