Yo, listen up, fam! Check it, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin just dropped some major news. They announced in a press release that a whopping $5.5 million in cannabis tax funds will be going toward the New Jersey Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program (NJHVIP).
Now, you might be wondering where this money is coming from. Well, it’s straight-up from the state’s Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Fund. This fund consists of money that comes from cannabis taxes and fees to support a bunch of community services and programs.
So, what exactly is the NJHVIP? It’s managed by the Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance (VIVA) through the Office of Violence Intervention and Prevention. Platkin established VIVA in September 2022 to elevate and formalize violence intervention and victim services work within the Department of Law and Public Safety.
According to Murphy in a press release, “Through the New Jersey Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program, our Administration is making progress on our commitment to creating a safer state for all New Jerseyans. These innovative violence intervention programs allow providers to tend to vulnerable victims of violent crimes in the early days of their road to recovery in order to break the patterns of violence that have tragically taken the lives of too many New Jerseyans. We will continue to do what we can to support this work to prevent and overcome violence in our communities across the state.”
Platkin also chimed in, saying, “New Jersey’s Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs are essential aspects of our comprehensive approach to public safety, and they empower communities to interrupt cycles of victimization and violence. Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, we are continuing our historic investment in NJHVIPs by making available $5.5 million for these innovative services. Through this funding, we are making clear that we will use every tool and resource available to combat gun violence and violent crime that affects too many of our communities.”
Yo, Patricia Teffenhart, the executive director of VIVA, also spoke up about the NJHVIP. She said, “Our NJHVIP partners are a key part of Attorney General Platkin’s trauma-informed, survivor-centered commitment to building safer, more resilient communities in New Jersey. By bringing together medical and community-based violence intervention teams that put victims at the center of service, their work supports the kind of healing that helps put victims on the road to recovery and a path to safety.”
Now, let’s break down how these hospital-based violence intervention programs actually help victims. They’re all about teamwork, yo. They bring together hospital clinicians, social workers, case managers, violence interventionists, and community health workers to support victims of crime. They provide services like crisis intervention and victim compensation to those who need it most. And with this fresh $5.5 million grant, they’ll have even more resources to make a difference.
The New Jersey Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program started back in January 2020 with funds from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) program. New Jersey was one of the first states to implement a program with VOCA funds. They initially had nine hospital partnerships, but that number has now increased to 11.
Since Murphy became governor in 2018, he’s been all about sending that cash flow to various NJHVIP sites. He’s made it rain $45 million in federal and state funding over the years. In August 2023, during the NJHVIP’s third year of operation, $15 million was earmarked for violence prevention services using the same cannabis fund. This money went toward guidance for at-risk youth and street intervention services. Murphy said last month, “For far too long, pockets of our state have been scarred by violence. And, since day one of our Administration, we have been committed to solving this problem. Through initiatives such as the [CBVI] Programs, we have made great strides on that pledge. I am incredibly grateful for Attorney General Platkin and his team’s steadfast dedication to reducing violence in our state and creating a safer community for all.”
Now, let’s talk about how organizations can get a piece of this $5.5 million pie. If you’re looking to apply for NJHVIP grants, you gotta get your hustle on and submit your application by October 18, 2023. But hold up, there’s a limit. You can only apply for up to $995,000 per project. They already held a webinar on September 29 for interested applicants, but don’t worry if you missed it. You can check out the recording of the meeting when it’s posted online on October 3.
In other news, three badass New Jersey attorneys named Andrew Cooper, Michael Hoffman, and John Williams recently held an expungement service event at the 420 Expo. This epic event went down between September 29 and October 1 and was all about celebrating the legal cannabis lifestyle. It had over 100 vendors, educational seminars, and even appearances from celeb Cheech Marin. Cooper explained, “The so-called war on drugs has been particularly hard on minority and low-income communities, and although studies show white, brown, and Black people use cannabis equally, Black and brown people were nearly four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis violations. Despite laws designed to assist these communities, the individuals affected most are also least able to benefit due to a lack of access to information and support. The Expungement Clinics at 420 Expo are intended to provide the kind of meaningful access to information otherwise sorely lacking in society.”
Alright fam, that’s a wrap on this major news outta New Jersey. The $5.5 million from the cannabis tax fund is gonna start flowing in 2024, and it’s gonna make a real difference in supporting victims and preventing violence. Keep hustlin’ and stay tuned for more updates on how we can create safer communities for all. Peace out!