Cannabis in Camden: Pennsauken natives working on short film about local recreational weed startups

Lemar Boone, a startup cannabis entrepreneur, says breaking into New Jersey’s burgeoning cannabis retail industry is a daunting yet rewarding experience.

Recreational weed sales in New Jersey began in April and, so far, big-box corporations from out of state make up a vast majority of the state-approved retailers, leaving less room for regular people.

Through “Stories Invincible,” Boone highlights the lives of startup cannabis entrepreneurs like himself. He’s currently working on a short documentary called “Cannabis in Camden,” which he hopes will expose the challenges small businesses in the greater Camden area face when joining the industry, especially companies in communities negatively impacted by the War on Drugs.

New Jersey officials have promised to make social equity a significant component of the industry’s rollout.

“There’s a lot of challenges with not only creating a business but entering into the cannabis space, especially as somebody in the Black and brown community,” says Boone, co-owner of Pennsauken-based company Cuzzies.

Boone argues that fledgling cannabis companies have difficulty accessing real estate and funding sometimes due to the perceived stigma around weed.

His film will also explore the pushback cannabis companies receive from municipalities electing to opt out of recreational cannabis sales or make the process cumbersome for first-time entrepreneurs.

“Although [getting] a license is a good start, a lot of these cannabis entrepreneurs are facing problems at the municipal level, where the politics are not the same,” Boone says. “It confuses me why municipalities have so much pushback. It comes down to stigma.”

Learn more about “Cannabis in Camden” alongside the work of Boone’s cohort of Stories Invincible reporting fellows at our closing ceremony on Thursday, February 23, in Camden County College’s Riletta Twyne Cream Learning Theater.

Reet Starwind is the Stories Invincible project coordinator for the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. He is an artist, educator, and organizer in the Camden area working with the Center to elevate restorative narratives about Camden’s residents and history. Contact Reet via email at reet@storiesinvincible.org or on Instagram at @mrstarwind.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit centerforcooperativemedia.org.

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Reet Starwind

Reet Starwind is an artist, educator & organizer in the Camden area working with the Center to elevate restorative narratives about Camden’s residents