MORRIS COUNTY — Assemblyman Brian Bergen’s bill helping first-time entrepreneurs gain the capital needed to open medical marijuana dispensaries became law today.
“It’s not a marijuana bill, it’s a business bill,” Bergen (R-Morris) told the Assembly Health Committee in May. “Starting a business is near impossible nowadays. With this law, entrepreneurs are going to get a shot to enter into a fresh new industry and grow the economy.”
The legislation (A5179/S2875) incentivizes investors to cover the start-up costs for dispensary businesses owned by minorities, women, and disabled veterans. The investor, investment fund, or group providing financial or technical assistance is now allowed to hold up to a 35% interest in up to seven medical marijuana businesses. Prior to the law, investors could not simultaneously hold more than one medical marijuana cultivator, manufacturer, or dispensary permit.
Bergen added that the new law was thoughtful enough to put protections in place and ensures investors aren’t predatory by restricting them to only a certain portion of ownership.
Depending on the value of the assistance, medical marijuana businesses have at least five, seven or 10 years to pay back the full amount with interest. The investor can 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 can only be transferred to another certified minority, women’s, or disabled veterans business.