Black and brown entrepreneurs hit with challenges to open legal marijuana businesses in New Jersey

Some Black and brown marijuana entrepreneurs say they are still finding it challenging to attract investors to start their small businesses but hope that will change soon.
Tahir Johnson got conditional approval on May 24 to start his dream business and open a retail marijuana location in his hometown of Ewing, but he is having a hard time.
"I'm looking at purchasing property that all in you know, all in I'm looking at a couple hundred thousand dollars, and I can't go to a bank to get a loan for it," says Johnson.
Johnson, who is the CEO of Simply Pure Trenton, says Black and brown business owners like himself are finding it challenging to access the capital to open marijuana businesses in New Jersey. The federal ban on marijuana banking means a regular business loan is illegal.
"It really is an uphill battle," says Johnson.
Corporations are making millions in the marijuana market with three Garden State Dispensary locations set to expand from medicinal to retail sales on Wednesday.
The company that owns Garden State Dispensary, AYR Wellness, is major enough to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Vice president of operations Julie Winter says the company has programs that increase diversity and inclusion.
"Very important to me that we have a diverse workforce and empowered by female and minority leaders," says Winter. "We have different pipeline programs that help hire people who have been disproportionately impacted by this, so expungement clinics, and then a pipeline into hiring."
Tahir has taken money from his kids' college savings plan and loans from his 401(k) for his dream business. "I've been told that I have a golden ticket, like Willy Wonka."
The AYR Wellness locations opening for recreational sales Wednesday are in Woodbridge, Union and Eatontown.