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NJ Presence Felt at Cannabis World Congress Weed Convention

New Jersey entrepreneurs and professionals made their presence felt at the 2023 Cannabis World Congress (CWC) weed convention held at the Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan.

New Jersey and New York cannabis professionals were eager to get the latest updates on the developing markets.

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) held its monthly meeting on the first day of the weed convention. They did not at least send a representative to the cannabis industry convention to better understand the issues of the market they seek to govern.

New Jersey at the Cannabis World Congress (CWC)

However, the State of New Jersey was not without representation. The NJ Business Action Center (BAC) was there represented by Penni Wild and Angela Speakman (who is a Heady NJ Patreon supporter, full disclosure.)

“The Business Action Center, the services they provide to New Jersey, are phenomenal, totally confidential, and free of charge,” Speakman noted.

She noted that the NJ Cannabis Traning Academy they are spearheading would debut later this year. 

Speakman explained that along with classes, students will be connected to paid New Jersey cannabis mentors who will provide world experience. The NJBAC hired noted New Jersey cannabis attorney and advocate Jessica Gonzalez as a consultant who is in the process of developing the program.

Dasheeda Dawson, who went to college in New Jersey and became the Portland cannabis regulator after a career in the industry, is the first NYC Cannabis Director. She was the keynote speaker first thing on the first day.

Noted New Jersey cannabis advocate and marketing consultant Evan Nison of NORML and Nison Co (who will be on the Heady Home Gow forum panel on June 24th in Trenton) discussed cannabis marketing on a panel headed by New native Stella Morrison.

Last year NYC Mayor Eric Adams himself encouraged people to smoke weed.

New Jersey Cannabis Issues Discussed

Noted businessman and NJ cannabis advocate Leo Bridgewater spoke as well. He has been involved with the CWC for several years.

He has always been quick to emphasize that New Jersey is still dealing with the repercussion of the administration of former Governor Chris Christie (R ). The medical cannabis rules he set up established a small, limited market of overpriced sub-par cannabis.

Bridgewater compared it to a video game where you’re constantly advancing. But you can only get good by reading the manual and knowing the rules. 

Regarding the pressing issue of capital or money for many, he noted that the Social Equity Excise on adult use recreational New Jersey cannabis sales will help some entrepreneurs.

The New Jersey fiscal year ends June 31st. So the money collected will be available soon to the NJCRC.

There is great frustration at the development of the New Jersey cannabis industry. However, Bridgewater noted people also don’t understand the politics, history, and local nuances. They have all significantly influenced how the New Jersey cannabis market has developed.

“You don’t know history. I remember when Phil was candidate Murphy,” Bridgewater said.

He also noted that the nature of a delay and impatience varies depending on who you talk to.

Weed Convention Floor Fun

Most of the action was on the convention floor.

There were many ancillary hustlers and high-end business 2 Business B2B vendors on the floor of the CWC. Some of the New York cannabis dispensaries, like Housing Works that have opened, were also there.

Almost everyone was looking for investors or a loan for money.

Many colleges had booths, including the New Jersey-based Stockton University, Rowan University, and Hudson County Community College. They have started cannabis education programs to train cannabis students to be New Jersey cannabis professionals. 

Several New York colleges were there as well, such as the cannabis-pioneering LIM College and the prestigious Cornell University.

The Proud Mary queer professional networking group had a flamboyant display area at the front of the hall. Since it’s LGBT Pride month, it made sense.

A convention is a great thing that brings people together. 

Tony Gallo of the Sapphire Security cannabis consulting firm threw a fun party at Work N’ Roll, a new pro-cannabis co-working space in Midtown.

Parties are sometimes where you can get the most effective networking done.

The industry and those that want to be especially professional and high national go to the big weed industry conventions in NYC and elsewhere.

So the Buy Local angle of so many New Jersey cannabis advocates could get lost in the mix. Many players go to national cannabis industry conventions. Numerous individuals and companies from across the legal cannabis markets have the same problems with money, local politics, real estate, and federal prohibition that angers so many in the Garden State. Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and women want cannabis licenses elsewhere as well as in New Jersey.

The corporate nature of the Cannabis World Congress was also noted by some legacy operators in attendance. 

New York Cannabis Issues

While New Jersey might seem like it is in the middle of a wild cannabis revolution, New York City has gone further.

NYC has become flooded with more than the mere Delta hemp smoke shops. Instead, they have countless legacy cannabis dispensaries openly selling cannabis from other markets. Many California adult use cannabis companies have had trouble selling their products legally. So they export it to the East. They have labels that make them look legitimate if they were in California.

One smoke shop had the iconic Punch Bars of infused high-end chocolate sold in many legacy markets and unlicensed dispensaries.

Some say that the New York cannabis license, which many want, might become nearly worthless with such competition. Many at the Cannabis World Congress were pessimistic about it.

A flooded market is good for the consumer but not the business people seeking to build legitimate fortunes.

NYC has only made token efforts to shut down the unlicensed cannabis market that has boomed throughout the five boroughs.

Since taking office, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) has made cannabis reform one of her top priorities. 

In the wake of New Jersey cannabis legalization, Governor Phil Murphy (D) has seemed to move on to other things while letting the NJCRC address the pressing issues in the market.

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