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Cannabis Regulatory Commission

Impact Zones

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (P.L.2021, c. 16 (C.24:6I-31 et al.) designates Impact Zones as municipalities which meet specific criteria based on population, past criminal marijuana enterprises, law enforcement activity, rates of unemployment, and poverty. The statute seeks to target communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs for particular consideration in New Jersey’s burgeoning cannabis market – specifically for preference in licensing and in allocation of revenues generated from cannabis sales.

The list of municipalities is defined by law and compiled by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission based on several factors:

  • Population
  • Whether or not a municipality is in the top 40% of municipalities for arrests for marijuana or hashish-related offenses
  • Crime Index, which is a measure of overall crime in a municipality
  • Unemployment

*According to the legislation an Impact Zone means any municipality, based on past criminal marijuana enterprises contributing to higher concentrations of law enforcement activity, unemployment, and poverty, or any combination thereof, within parts of or throughout the municipality that:

(1) Has a population of 120,000 or more 

(2) Ranks in the top 40% of New Jersey municipalities for marijuana- or hashish-related arrests; has a crime index total of 825 or higher; and has a local average annual unemployment rate in the top 15% of all municipalities

(3) Is located in a county of the third class, based upon the county's population, that meets all of the criteria in (2) other than having a crime index total of 825 or higher; or

(4) Is located in a county of the second class, based upon the county's population:

(a) with a population of less than 60,000, that ranks in the top 40% of municipalities in the State for marijuana- or hashish-related arrests; has a crime index total of 1,000 or higher; but for calendar year 2019 does not have a local average annual unemployment rate that ranks in the top 15% of all municipalities; or

(b) with a population of not less than 60,000 or more than 80,000; has a crime index total of 650 or higher; and for calendar year 2019 has a local average annual unemployment rate of 3% or higher using the same estimated annual unemployment rates."

Though there is overlap, Impact Zones, as designated by the New Jersey legislature, are different from communities (Economically Disadvantaged Areas) that may qualify a license applicant for Social Equity consideration by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

Following the statutory guidelines, 87 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities (15%), in 18 counties qualify as Impact Zones.  These Impact Zones have an average unemployment rate 32% higher than the rest of New Jersey’s municipalities, 77% more marijuana arrests, and a Crime Index 34% higher.

Twenty-one municipalities with median family incomes above New Jersey’s average median family income qualified as Impact Zones. The Impact Zone with the highest median family income is Morris Plains ($127,226).

The data supporting the naming of the Impact Zones is compiled from various sources as specified in the law. The data sources, the rationale for the assumptions, and the legislative language is detailed in Impact Zone Report.

*Full details of each criteria is in the report Identifying Impact Zones and its abstract.


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