An underground legacy to legal independent NJ cannabis industry is finally emerging after years of advocacy and struggle. As a symbol, cannabis entrepreneur and advocate Tara “Misu” Sargente, who has underground legacy ties, bought Orange Creamsicle cannabis flower by independent micro Prolific Grow House and infused ginger peach strips by the underground legacy to legal ButACake from the independent Baked By The River dispensary microbusiness in Lambertville in Hunterdon County.
Prolific Grow House has marketed itself as an underground legacy to legal company.
It was Tara Misu’s first legal New Jersey cannabis product she bought even though the legal New Jersey adult use cannabis market opened in April 2022, and she is a leading advocate as the former Executive Director of the NJ CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA).
“I totally respect you waiting,” Baked By The River CEO Jesse Marie Villars declared. “You were such an inspiration.”
Inspiring Others with Blazin’ Bakery
After the purchase, they went to talk more in private and recorded a podcast for Misu’s show.
“I mostly gave them away,” Tara Misu said about her pot brownies. “I would never consider myself a legacy operator.”
It was illegal then to possess and distribute marijuana goods. Nonetheless, she was very interested in feedback on her recipe. While she realized there was a market for them, she did not want to be a full-time legacy operator selling weed brownies.
Tara Misu mostly sold brownie mix under Blazin’ Bakery as an ancillary product designed to get consumers higher than if they used a normal brownie mix.
Baked By The Riverco-owner Cord Schlobohm agreed she inspired them to go through the very elaborate legalistic cannabis process.
“Back then, there was no distinction. You were doing a great service for people,” he noted.
“You normalized what the legacy was going,” Villars added.
She said she bought the brownie mix as a New Jersey medical cannabis patient for the first time in 2014.
Going From Legacy Ancillary To Legal & Respectable Advocate
Tara Misu noted that despite being in the national and NJ cannabis industry for 10 years, many lawyers and professional newcomers were not impressed.
“It was about reinventing myself to fit in with what cannabis had become versus the world I knew for 10 years. I thought that world was going to just be a continuation,” Tara Misu explained. “They did not have knowledge or respect. They looked at me and said who are you?”
“People could easily be derogatory towards the community, saying these stoners,” she added.
“I had to go there to get here,” Tara Misu said. “I did get that respectability.”
“You were doing things like we did,” Villars noted.
She argued a lot of people who quickly came to dominate cannabis had little to do with the long-time underground cannabis culture and community.
Making the NJ Cannabis Industry Small Business Friendly
Tara Misu wanted to make it easy for small business owners from that culture and community to get into the new licensed NJ cannabis industry. So, she helped write regulations creating the New Jersey micro business cannabis license.
“It’s as good as it could be. It’s never going to be an Etsy store,” she noted about the micro license.
An Etsy shop is fairly easy to open compared to a legal NJ cannabis industry microbusiness.
“It allowed for people like us to get in. Without seeing that, I don’t think we would have made the decision we made,” Schlobohm said about going legal and getting through legal and political hurdles.
Villars said that many times going to “Women-owned business” functions in cannabis led her to be “surrounded by a bunch of rich, white men that were well off, from, like investment or wealth management. Or some other industry and had no understanding of weed.”
Tara Misu noted that being in such rooms is not easy.
“A lot of them never smoked weed. They knew nothing about the culture,” she said.
“I did not see people like myself and a lot of people like myself. I had to be the voice for people who weren’t in the room,” Tara Misu added.
“That’s appreciated,” Schlobohm declared.
Baked By the River Succeeds in Cannabis Despite Challenges
Baked By The River is among the first 100 New Jersey cannabis dispensaries. However, despite having a conditional to annual converted Social Equity micro license, they do not feel they were prioritized as they were supposed to be.
Villars noted they needed to become political advocates by commenting at New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC ) meetings, testifying before state legislators, and being cannabis policy experts in Lambertville.
“This is what you gotta do at the formation of a new industry in order to advocate for the parts of this industry and the underrepresented people,” she noted.
Schlobohm said that, unfortunately, their license application disappeared at one point. The NJCRC was unresponsive to questions regarding the delay until a lobbyist intervened on their behalf.
Due to the delay, they were not the first Lambertville cannabis dispensary to open.
Despite the many challenges they encountered, they are doing well.
A great passion helped them succeed in the NJ cannabis industry and open Baked By The River as a legal dispensary.
“We gave everything. We had nothing to lose. We’ve been working retail our entire lives. We’ve been working minimum-wage jobs. We always had to supplement our income baking weed. We were month to month barely making it,” Villars explained. “Cannabis literally saved our lives. Overcoming opioid addiction with cannabis and using cannabis to get through all the surgeries. Cannabis helped me stay off of addictive drugs, addictive prescriptions that would have killed me.”
“We’ve lost a lot of friends to the opioid epidemic,” she added sadly. “We’ve been to more funerals than we’ve been to weddings. It feels like we’ve been living on borrowed time. There’s a lot of people we’re doing this for.”
Building Micro Cannabis Manufacturer Green Alchemy
Tara Misu noted she is a natural serial entrepreneur not suited to be a regular employee. She previously had a jewelry store and offered graphic design services, among others.
Her micro cannabis manufacturer licensed business, Green Alchemy, is opening in her hometown of South River in Middlesex County on the street she grew up on. The area is a flood zone, and her family had issues. Green Alchemy is now in the process of opening in a building that should be more flood-resistant on the same street.
Tara Misu noted they should be on shelves by summer soon with Blazin’ Bakery branded infused cannabis brownies and other quality products.