Stockton University held a cannabis career fair and business expo yesterday geared toward those seeking to enter the industry.
The business expo was held in conjunction with the NJ CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) and NJ.com.
NJCBA President Ed DeVeaux moderated a panel with Stacey Udell of the accounting firm HBK, the politically connected attorney Lou Magazzu, and Jeffrey Booker of CannaCoverage, which insures cannabis companies.
“Never in a million years did I think that I would be involved in the cannabis industry,” Booker said. “As it’s become legalized… we felt it was important to bring the products and services available to every other business out there to the cannabis industry.”
Udell noted she became interested in the industry in 2014 after visiting a friend in Colorado. She said she met a woman at a Women Grow event who was told she could never walk again. But after consuming medical cannabis, she did.
“It’s amazing the stories you hear once you’ve been in the industry and seen the benefits the benefits that cannabis can provide,” Udell said.
She noted that New Jersey was the first state in the Northeast to legalize adult-use cannabis. However, due to the delays in its passage, other states like Connecticut and New York are catching up fast.
“We could have had first-mover advantage, but we’re not going to have as such of an advantage,” Udell said.
Magazzu explained he started representing cell phones companies in 1985 before they were widespread.
“Within the next five to 10 years, cannabis as a business, as a legal entity, as an opportunity for a career, will be just as ubiquitous as cell phones are now,” he said.
Magazzu recognized the bill introduced by Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace this week as a sign of the progress made on legalization.
He noted many have had difficulty getting jobs and advancing due to convictions for cannabis possessions.
“Every attorney working who’s fortunate enough to be blessed to be in this industry should give back by assisting those folks going through expungement pro-bono for free,” Magazzu said.
Udell expressed the belief held by many in the cannabis industry that federal legalization is likely to occur within the next few years.
“It’s a shame it’s such a political issue,” she said. “It makes me sick, actually.”
Magazzu noted that since cannabis can be a source of revenue, it is an attractive incentive to legalize it.
“At the end of the day, this it’s just another emerging business,” he said.
“You will need still need resumes. You will still need to show up to interviews on time,” DeVeaux said to the students.
He noted many can transfer into the industry leveraging their existing skill sets.
“The degree of professionalism of the folks in this industry that I have experienced is as a good or better in the non-industry, or everything else I’ve done. Because they know they’re being held to a higher standard,” Magazzu said. “Don’t perceive it be like a Saturday Night Live sketch in terms of who’s running it.”
Booker said he was pleasantly surprised when he saw people in the industry “as buttoned up and as professional as anyone in any industry I’ve worked with. That was great to see.”
As an insurance company, he liked this because it lowers the risk involved.
“Do what you enjoy. Because you’re going to spend the next 20, 30, 40 years unless you’re really lucky and you hit very early, you’re going to spend a substantial amount of time doing it,” Magazzu said.
“There’s no experts yet because it’s such a young industry, so you can become an expert,” he added.
“Speak for yourself,” Udell joked.
She urged those attending to network with people to advance in the industry and meet experts who can offer advice.
“Networking is so important. It’s the most important thing in any business,” Udell said. “But be yourself, ya know, because people are going to refer contacts or business to you because they like you.”
“You really need to make sure when you are networking, find ways to help those you’re networking with,” Booker said. “Then they feel more comfortable giving back.”
Cannabis Conference at Stockton University
Stockton University’s conference featured a range of panels featuring subject matter experts. Along with the conference, the dispensaries Columbia Care and the Botanist were present among others with opportunities for students.
Cannabis Regulatory Commission Vice-Chair Sam Delgado filmed a conversation that served as the keynote address.
Stockton University Professor Rob Mejia served as Master of Ceremonies of the event and moderated panels. Stockton University was the first college in New Jersey to launch a Cannabis Studies minor.