NJBAC Welcomes 1st Cannabis Training Academy Teacher Group


Hopewell Borough and Evolve Sky play shady games while the NJBAC cannabis training academy helps businesspeople open. Show floor cabinet of cannabis products displayed

    The NJ Business Action Center (NJBAC) selected its first group of Cannabis Training Academy (CTA) teachers for New Jersey’s cannabis education assistance program.

    They’re planning to launch the Cannabis Training Academy this spring. The goal is to provide the first few classes and course materials by mid-April. The NJBAC is building the program from the ground up.

    The program also will help individuals determine whether the cannabis industry is the right fit for their business aspirations.

    The NJ Cannabis Training Academy is an online program with pre-recorded video, text scripts, PowerPoint presentations, and audio material that is on demand and accessible 24/7. 

    The training hopefully does not come too late for many conditional New Jersey cannabis license winners who, without help, are near failing or giving up due to a lack of money and help. Most have not applied to convert to the annual license needed to open.

    Helping The Most Worthy

    All students will have access to the first three levels of online instruction to understand how to establish a compliant New Jersey business, the laws and regulations that shape New Jersey’s cannabis market, and an overview of the cannabis license application portal.

    To access the rest of the levels and course materials, eligible students must qualify as “Impact Zone applicants.”

    An Impact Zone supposed to be is an underserved community disproportionately hurt by cannabis prohibition, like an inner city neighborhood. However, majority White prosperous towns like East Brunswick in Middlesex County, where the police likely enforced the War on Drugs zealously, are also on the list.

    East Brunswick is among the many towns that do not allow legal adult use cannabis dispensaries.

    Upper-level students will need to prove they currently live in an Impact Zone. Or they can plan to locate their future cannabis business inside an Impact Zone and/or hire future employees living in Impact Zones.

    Prioritizing Locals

    It’s important there is at least a state residency requirement. The NJ Economic Development Authority (EDA) gave grants to companies that were not majority locally owned. Some did go to women and minority-owned companies from elsewhere.

    While the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) recently released data on approved New Jersey cannabis license ownership broken down by race and gender, where they have made great progress towards inclusion, it did not describe local owners. They did provide on the 26th and 27th slides data on where the companies are based. But that is not the same thing.

    Unfortunately, they did not respond to a request by Heady NJ for such data by the time of publication.

    A lot of cannabis companies and professionals of varying degrees of size and values from across the dozens of state-legal cannabis markets in the United States want to get into the New Jersey cannabis market.

    Progress Launching the NJBAC Cannabis Training Academy Praised

    “We look forward to launching the Cannabis Training Academy in 2024. This program will build upon the work happening throughout state government to create a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse cannabis industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way.

    “Our goal is to provide key support to Jersey-owned, Jersey-local entrepreneurs who are interested in pursuing a recreational cannabis license through this virtual technical assistance program,” said NJBAC Executive Director Melanie Willoughby. “We are proud to provide resources and support to budding cannabis entrepreneurs and current local operators who are striving to make a positive impact in their communities.”

    “The New Jersey cannabis community is an important partner to build out this academy,” NJBAC Deputy Executive Director Penni Wild declared. “After three months of screening, vetting, and interviews, the first 25 instructors have been selected to help us initiate and launch this first-of-its-kind cannabis technical assistance program in New Jersey.”

    “Each of our selected instructors brings years of experience, success, some painful lessons learned, and deep insight to budding entrepreneurs who are interested in stepping into the Garden State’s cannabis industry,” explained CTA Executive Director Tauhid Chappell. “Many have personally written and submitted applications for, and have succeeded in winning, cannabis licenses in New Jersey and/or other states too.”

    The Cannabis Training Academy team conducted their CTA Instructor hiring process from June to November 2023.  

    The team screened resumes and applications, organized and conducted in-depth interviews, and then selected their first cohort of instructors for the program.

    Initial outreach enabled 250 people to express interest in applying for the CTA Instructor role. More than 200 people applied.

    More than 150 applications were deemed complete to move into interview consideration. Of those 150, 64 people were selected for final interviews. Last fall, they interviewed and selected 25 people.

     NJBAC Cannabis Education Curriculum

    The first phase of the technical assistance program will offer a curriculum of more than 60 courses over 10 levels in the various areas of cannabis education. Later phases and additions to the CTA will include an underground Legacy to Legal curriculum, ancillary business educational courses and post-operational educational courses, webinars, and other cannabis education materials that supplement the Academy.

    Students must go through the course material on each level and then take a short quiz at the end. Passing each quiz with an 85% or higher will unlock the next level and course materials.  

    NJ Cannabis Training Academy Instructors

    The selected 25 CTA Instructors and their designated cannabis education courses are:

    • Rosemarie Moyeno Matos – Gaining Municipal Proof of Local Support
    • Chuck Latini – Understanding Zoning Approvals and Site Plans
    • Stephanie Thomas – Real Estate Considerations
    • Cecilia Oyediran – Understanding The Application Scoring Criteria and Application Fees. Writing Your Personal History & Entity Disclosure Forms and Submitting A Successful Application
    • Chirali Patel – Understanding and Drafting Business Plan and Management Profiles, Writing A Regulatory Compliance Plan. Preparing your Conditional Application Submission, and Understanding the Conditional Conversion Application Process
    • Lauren Rudick – Crafting and Understanding Business Formation Documents, Understanding Management Service Agreements (“MSA”) and Financial Source Agreements (“FSA”). Understanding Vendor Contractor Agreements
    • Jessica Velazquez – Understanding Cannabis Taxation
    • Dharshini Casinathen – Describing Your Business, Drafting Mission Statement & Value Propositions, Organizing A Qualified Team. Describing Your Products and Services, Writing An Executive Summary
    • Devan McLaren – Creating A Financial Forecasting Plan
    • James E. Jackson III – Preparing to Obtain Liability Insurance
    • Patricia Walker – Understanding Your Business and Financial Plan, Preparing An Operating Plan, Describing Your Business Experience
    • Hugh Giordano – Understanding Labor Peace Agreements
    • Daniel Pierre – Understanding Collective Bargaining Agreements
    • Tahir Johnson – Creating A Workforce Development and Job Creation Plan and Creating A Community Impact, Social Responsibility and Research Statement
    • Marie Montmarquet – Creating A Safety and Security Plan and Drafting Standard Operating Procedures for Delivery
    • Tim Weigand – Creating Your Environmental Impact Plan
    • Monica Werkheiser – Understanding The Fundamentals of Standard Operating Procedures, and Drafting SOPs for Adverse Event Reporting, Quality Assurance/Control and Recall
    • Kindalyn Thompson – Drafting SOPs for Packaging and Labeling, Inventory Control, Storage, Diversion Prevention, Recordkeeping and Waste Disposal/Sanitation
    • Jason Gully – Drafting SOPs for Cultivation
    • Kevin Serwatowski – Drafting SOPs for Manufacturing
    • Charles Smith – Drafting SOPs for Wholesale
    • Sequoah Turner – Drafting SOPs for Distribution
    • Suzan Nickelson – Drafting SOPs for Dispensing
    • Renata Serban – Drafting SOPs for Accounting & Tax Compliance
    • Anita Bear – Drafting SOPs for Age Verification, Secure Transport of Cannabis, and Reporting of Test Results for Cannabis

    Many instructors are already leaders in the New Jersey cannabis industry as dispensary owners or professionals who have advised owners. Several have already been featured in Heady NJ

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