NJ Cannabis Insider held its summer event in Asbury Park, which featured networking with industry leaders and a panel of experts.
The panel featured attorney Mollie Hartman Lustig, noted accountant Stacey Udell, and legacy operator and manufacturing applicant Matha Figaro of But A Cake moderated by Cannabis Insider’s Jelani Gibson.
“I’ve been feeding the masses and keeping them happy since 2015,” Figaro said.
A pastry chef by trade, she noted her business boomed during the pandemic. Many mothers were so overwhelmed with the stress of COVID that they turned to discreet smokeless edibles.
Udell noted the value of cannabis companies keeping clean accounting books.
“The IRS is going to come after you. The state is going to come after you,” Udell said.
Figaro noted the nature of incubators in the New Jersey cannabis industry like Lantern that help adult-use cannabis license applicants.
“The people we expect to be competing us soon are funding these cohorts,” she said.
“We have 13 people to catch up with,” Figaro added about the licensed vertically integrated cannabis corporations that are Multi-State Operators dominating New Jersey’s current limited adult-use market.
“A lot of people in this industry want to keep it for a few years and then sell it,” Udell observed about many adult-use cannabis license seekers.
Not Enough Rules
Lustig noted the lack of state rules on adult-use cannabis consumption lounges, delivery, wholesaling, and distribution make it exceedingly difficult for those who seek to operate those businesses.
The full interim rules for the New Jersey adult-use cannabis industry will be publicly available on August 1st.
“There’s been a lot of talk about consumption lounges,” Lustig said.
She noted that those who live somewhere where there are negative consequences to smoking inside need a consumption lounge to do so safely. Those in federal housing projects and rented homes are at risk.
Lustig noted the idea of Bring Your Own Cannabis (BYOC) might be an interesting strategy for an event space.
“A social club is permitted,” she said
Lustig noted that a lounge officially is not allowed to sell food or water is a huge problem since the nature of consuming cannabis often leaves an individual greatly desiring both.
“People need water when they’re smoking weed. You have to bring in your own water. They can’t charge for water,” she said.
Lustig encouraged people to get into advocacy about rules.
“Speak up. Make a comment of the CRC (NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission) meeting,” she said. “Contact your legislator tomorrow, every day.”
The Value of Cannabis Networking
“People will remember you for who you are,” Lustig said about one’s reputation.
“The cannabis industry is a very small world,” Figaro said.
My presence as the noted Editor of headynj.com and a frequent cannabis event participant along with other well-known professionals was noted.
“Networking has been the most important part of this journey so far,” Figaro noted. “Be loud. Ask for what you need. A lot of things in this industry cost a shit ton of money.”
“You do need people experienced in the industry,” Udell advised applicants.
Lustig spoke of the merits of LinkedIn for networking and its friendly cannabis content policy.
“LinkedIn is truly a gold mine,” Figaro said
The degree to how friendly social media sites are to cannabis varies widely.
“I’ve also been banned on Instagram,” Lustig said.
The merits of Leafwire, a professional networking site for cannabis professionals, were noted.
“It’s important to bring each other up in this industry,” Lustig said. “Do not ghost people. Even if something doesn’t work for you. Your networking is on every backyard barbecue. You never know who is involved in this business. You never know where your network lies.”
The value of ongoing education about the nuances of the cannabis industry was encouraged.
“We’re all figuring it out as we go,” Lustig said.
The gathering of people for a cannabis event with drink tickets included was in a hotel where few clouds of smoke were to be found versus the sidewalk. Unfortunately, this is normal given the current nature of New Jersey cannabis legalization implementation.