New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission is hosting public hearings on how revenue from the Social Equity Excise Fee should be used. Learn more about how to testify here, and check out talking points on equitable investments here.
Below is testimony from New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition’s Jenna Mellor recommending how revenue from the cannabis Social Equity Excise Fee should be spent.
- Do not double down on drug war investments. For decades, investment in law enforcement justified by the drug war has crowded out other much-needed investments in community wellbeing. Any revenue from the excise fee should be invested in areas that remained underfunded as the drug war prospered — like housing, economic development, childcare, education, harm reduction, evidence-based and on-demand drug treatment, and social and legal services. Policymakers should not allow funds to be spent on law enforcement.
- Invest in a harm reduction approach to drug use. If any excise fee revenue is used to fund drug prevention or treatment programs, then these programs should be rooted in a harm reduction approach to drug use. A harm reduction approach to drug use is evidence-based and centers the humanity and wellbeing people who use drugs. When people have access to harm reduction
services, they are less likely to experience drug use that causes problems in their lives and more likely to find support that works for them if they do.
- Prioritize participatory decision-making. Communities who have experienced the most harm related to cannabis prohibition should have a meaningful and active role in deciding how the excise fee revenue is spent. To ensure meaningful participation, any localities that receive revenue should be required to — and supported in — develop participatory budgeting processes that are responsive to resident priorities. Moreover, a proactive effort to include residents who have personally been arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses and/or who use cannabis should be required.