Gov. Phil Murphy will appoint Charles Barker, an aide to U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-Newark), to the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission after an outcry from the state NAACP over the absence of a Black man from the five-member panel.
“I know Charles has the experience, commitment, and skills needed to help build a fair and inclusive adult-use cannabis market that will serve as a national model,” Murphy said. “We’re thrilled to welcome Charles to the Commission and look forward to his continued public service.”
Barker, who is Black, will replace United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union Local 342 Professional Division Director William Wallace, who will become the commission’s director of labor relations.
“For generations, the misguided War on Drugs has devastated entire families and communities,” Barker said. “I know this experience first-hand from being unjustly profiled and pulled over, illegally searched, and scolded many times by the police simply for the color of my skin. This is very real for me.”
Politico New Jersey first reported the appointment.
The NAACP raised alarms after Murphy announced two final appointments to the commission in late February over the absence of a Black man among its numbers.
He’ll join Chair Dianna Houenou, New Jersey Department of Health Director of Policy and Legislative Services Maria Del Cid, Sam Delgado and Krista Nash.
“I am sincerely disappointed that the NAACP had to go to such lengths to ensure that the Marijuana Legalization Law was followed and that this commission was reflective of the communities most harmed by this failed war on drugs,” NJ NAACP President Richard Smith said. “That said, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Charles Barker as he will be appointed to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission.”