Greetings From New Jersey, Now The 15th State To Go Green

By Stu Zakim

After a long rollercoaster rider, which saw the Cannabis legislation in New Jersey go through many iterations, this past Monday, it finally became legal.  The Garden State now stands in a unique position of being the epicenter of legal Adult Use and medical Cannabis on the East Coast.  The bigger question is can the current infrastructure manage what will surely be a significant increase in consumers purchasing legal Cannabis without minimizing the importance of keeping the state’s over 100 thousand medical patients fully supplied with the medicine they need to manage their lives in a healthier way than opiates.

Stu Zakim and NORML:’s Keith Stroup

In most of the states where the voters or legislators have approved laws that make Cannabis use legal, there has been a major hit on the medical patients.  New Jersey, in learning from the other states, have addressed a number of issues to avoid making the same mistakes.  They need to be applauded for their focus on the patients rather than the Adult use consumer as it’s all about how the plant makes life better for all.

Besides the celebration of the approval of the bill and Governor Murphy’s signing of it, the new bill will finally deal with the long term impacts of social injustice and equity that have affected communities of brown, black and Latino’s.  No longer can the police arrest someone if they smell of Cannabis or alcohol based on that fact; there are other long needed corrections to how the police deal with underage and Adult use Cannabis in place thanks to the concerted efforts of industry leaders like Leo Bridgewater, Ed Devereux, Scott Rudder, William Caruso, Susanna Short, Happy Munkey and others.

Curved Papers founder Michael O’Malley and Stu Zakim at the 2018 NYC Cannabis Parade

From a financial perspective, New Jersey is situated between two of the most populous areas in the I-95 corridor on Amtrak – NYC and Philadelphia – and should reap those rewards as it expands its medical program and moves towards awarding more licenses before moving on the Adult Use dispensaries.

As a communications strategist who has spent 8 years preparing for this moment on the East Coast, validates all the principals my friend David Rheins created with his forward thinking Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) and their many media properties (including MJNews Network and Marijuana Channel One used to help influence public opinion through educational programs long before others joined that space.

As the legalization process moves forward in NJ and hopefully NYC, please check MJNews for regular updates.  It’s going to be an exciting time and thanks for reading.

420MEDIA Trailblazers In Cannabis: Leo Bridgewater, Co-Founder CannaGatherNJ

Trailblazers In Cannabis

Digital marketing agency 420MEDIA and the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) have joined forces to create a series highlighting entrepreneurs trailblazing the cannabis scene. Each week, we’ll profile a noteworthy business pioneer, and ask each 5 questions.  This week, we’re pleased to introduce you to featured trailblazer Leo Bridgewater, co-founder of Cannagather NJ.

Tell us about your Company

CannagatherNJ is the largest and most diverse Cannabis Industry Networking/Education platform in the Garden state. Every 4th Tuesday of the month we host events where entrepreneurs, investors, and business owners in the industry can meet and exchange ideas. We highlight businesses that want to announce themselves, their business model, and their intentions in the Garden state. Our keynote speakers range from elected officials to former pro athletes, advocates and CEO’s, all in the cannabis or hemp industries.

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Why did you choose the cannabis/hemp business?

Considering my NJ medical marijuana patient advocacy work, I honestly feel my involvement in the cannabis/hemp industry is more of an evolution than a choice. In fact, it was through advocacy that the business revealed itself to me. The early history of our industry has not been kind to minorities and women. We’re currently living in that early history, and this is how I evolved into the business rather than it being a choice.

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What change will your firm address in the industry? Does it address an unmet need? 

The extreme lack of consumer education, coupled with an extreme lack of minority inclusion and participation, are all symptoms of chaos. This chaos only exists because the industry is still in its infancy, and we’ve yet to figure out how to effectively communicate with one another. Cannagather NJ looks to address those needs by hosting affordable education/networking events.

Those of us whose craft and business it is to either touch the plant or support the plant need a consistent place where we can meet up, learn, exchange ideas, and talk business amongst each other. Until Cannagather NJ, access to an environment like this would cost in the range of $100-$400. We bring quality speakers and exposure to some of the brightest minds and talent in the Industry and we charge just $35.00. We believe access to industry information is paramount if NJ is to have a robust and inclusive cannabis/hemp industry.

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What has been the reaction to your product/service/technology?

Humbling to say the least. Every month since its inception here in NJ our attendance has averaged between 200-250. Attendees and featured business alike have expressed both excitement and gratitude. The diverseness of our business owners is what we are most proud of. There’s an entire demographic of industry professionals whom have been largely ignored, locked out, missed, and passed over. CannagatherNJ looks to correct that problem.

Are there any upcoming milestones for your company?

Yes, we are in the midst of a national expansion. We are set to bring CannagatherCT, CannagatherATL, cannagatherMIA, CannagatherPhilly, CannagatherNO and CannagatherLA online in the coming months.

Where can readers learn more?

https://cannagather.com/nj/january2019

https://www.facebook.com/cannagathernj/

https://www.facebook.com/marcel.bridgewater

https://www.instagram.com/cannagather_nj/