21 people and places to watch in the New Jersey cannabis room in 2021


Editor’s Note: NJ Cannabis Insider is hosting a two-day business and networking conference March 9-10 with some of the state’s best-known industry leaders. The early bird registration is open. Tickets are limited.

New Jersey’s legal marijuana industry is at an embryonic stage. There’s no law on the books yet, and the government agency charged with regulating the industry isn’t in place. But there are many entrepreneurs, social justice attorneys, attorneys, and other professionals out there eager to help shape the powerful market that everyone expects to grow in the Garden State.

NJ Cannabis Insider created this list of people and companies to watch how this process unfolds. We include companies planning to expand the number of medical marijuana retail locations since they are the first to be sold in the adult market and the market has been stifled for so long.

We also include people who are influential in Trenton because there is still so much to be done legally and politically.

The list is not in order; Entries are displayed in alphabetical order.

1. Alternative Treatment Centers Columbia Care, Harmony Foundation, and Curaleaf and TerrAscend plan to add satellite locations for medical marijuana sales this year.

Joshua BauchnerSteve Hockstein | For NJ Advance Media

2. Josh Bauchner, head of the Cannabis Law Practice Group for Ansell, Grimm & Aaron at Woodland Park, has challenged the state Department of Health’s licensee decisions in 2018 and 2019 on behalf of unsuccessful applicants. Some accuse him of holding back the much-needed expansion of the drug market. However, when an appeals court ruled in November that the state’s process of issuing licenses in 2018 was confusing and not transparent, it gave lost applicants hope that they might have a chance in the future.

NJCI Rev. Charles Boyer

Rev. Charles Boyer in Piscataway. Patti soap | NJ Advance Media

3. Rev. Charles Boyer, pastor of AME Bethel Church in Woodbury and founder of Salvation and Social Justice, was and is a preeminent voice for justice, influencing law and politics.

Jeff Brown

Jeffrey Brown

4. Jeff Brown, the Department of Health’s deputy health commissioner overseeing the medical marijuana program, has been appointed executive director of the cannabis regulatory commission, which will operate both medicinal and adult markets.

5. Bill Caruso, attorney and general manager of Archer Public Affairs, is also a founding member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform. The former Executive Director of the Assembly’s majority office continues to advise legislators on drafting the legalization law.

6. Medical Marijuana Coalition – New Jersey, the community organization that campaigned for the law long before it took a foothold in Trenton, will continue to beat the drum for home-growing. Their struggle is gaining converts and attention.

NJCI Jackie Cornell

Jackie Cornell Patti soap | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

7.Jackie Cornell, director of policy and health innovations at Cannabis Company 1906, and Jacqueline Ferraro, vice president of business development at Full Steam Staffing, have teamed up to create the Cannabis Advisory Group, a newly formed professional organization that has already started Ask local authorities about their concerns about legalization.

8. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked off a plan to legalize marijuana in his state this year in 2021. This could make New York the Garden State’s only nearby competitor in the new market and affect the size of the New Jersey market.

Edmund DeVeaux

Edmund DeVeaux

9. Edmund DeVeaux, lobbyist for Burton Trent Public Affairs, is the new president of the leading trade group, the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association. He replaced founder Scott Rudder at the end of last year.

Sarah Fajardo

Sarah Fajardo

10. Sarah Fajardo is the Political Director of ACLU-NJ. She gave expert statements in many legislative hearings in 2020. Your organization continues to advocate racist and social justice provisions in legislation and decriminalization.

NJCI Ed Forchion, NJ Weedman

Ed Forchion aka NJ WeedmanPatti soap | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

11. Ed Forchion, known as NJ Weedman, remains a fearless innovator and smoker from his cannabis cafe, NJ Weedman’s Joint in Trenton. He openly sells cannabis for personal use to Trenton City Hall and will continue to push the boundaries of what the law allows.

Jessica Gonzalez

Jessica Gonzalez Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Adva

12. Jessica Gonzalez is the minority advocate general for medical marijuana and was a vocal advocate of justice and tax during the passage of S21 / A21.

Dianna Houenou

Dianna Houenou

13. Dianna Houenou, president of the yet to be constituted Cannabis Regulatory Commission, worked for the New Jersey ACLU speaking on social justice issues related to marijuana before Governor Phil Murphy hired her as Senior Policy Advisor in 2019. People count on their sensitivity and integrity to set an example for the emerging industry. Members of the commission to be confirmed, Sam Delgado and Krista Nash, and the members yet to be appointed will also be important.

Mayor of Clinton becomes President of NJLM

Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach Rich Maxwell | for NJ Advance Media

14. Janice Kovach, president of the NJ League of Municipalities, and Mike Cerra, executive director of the league, will have a lot to say about how the industry should impact locally.

NJCI Dr.  David Nathan

Dr. David NathanPatti soap | NJ Advance Media

15. David Nathan, Founder of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, brought members of the medical community together for marijuana reform. He proposed a system that would create uniform rules for labeling cannabis products.

NJCI Tara Sargente

Tara “Misu” Sargente Patti soap | NJ Advance Media

16. Tara “Misu” Sargente, owner of Blazin ‘Bakery and Podcaster, traded her position as executive director of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association for board members. She will remain a recognizable influencer in the industry.

17. Scotts Miracle-Gro was the main sponsor of the constitutional amendment to legalize it. Look for this Ohio-based company to bring their hydroponics line of cannabis growers to the Garden State.

NJCI Susanna Short

Susanna ShortSteve Hockstein | For NJ Advance Media

18. Susanna P. Short, a cannabis industry advisor at iAnthus and a member of the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association, stepped behind the scenes in 2020. She has been instrumental in ensuring that the existing air traffic control units work together on issues such as online ordering and home delivery.

Beth Stavola

Beth Stavola

19. Beth Stavola and iAnthus: The two are in a lawsuit over control of MPX NJ that is slated to open in Pleasantville and Atlantic City last year. A court last month issued a restraining order that returned control to Stavola after iAnthus allegedly steamed the company.

20. State Senator Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, has presented a bill (S2875) to allow ATCs to invest in licenses for minorities, women and veterans. This could affect the way minority licensees seek funding and increase the power of existing air traffic control units in the state. He was also instrumental in leading the behind-the-scenes talks that led to an agreement on the legalization law in December (before it stalled again).

21. United Food and Commercial Workers already represent some cannabis workers in New Jersey and thousands nationally. Expect the union’s relevance and interest to grow in New Jersey as the state expects operators to sign “peace deals” with unions stating that the company will not oppose any union activity.

This story first appeared in NJ Cannabis Insider.

Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj.

Susan K. Livio can be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio.

Enrique Lavin can be reached at elavin@njcannabisinsider.biz. Follow him on Twitter @EnriqueLavin.