The Green Rush: Exploring the Future of Cannabis in Jersey City
Photo: Tech panel at Jersey City Tech Meetup on cannabis Photo Credit: Courtesy Jersey City Tech Meetup
Tech panel at Jersey City Tech Meetup on cannabis | Courtesy Jersey City Tech Meetup

Anyone who thinks that cannabis and the “cannabiz” are not important or timely topics for the citizenry of New Jersey, and Jersey City in particular, was most definitely not among the enthusiastic attendees at the April Jersey City Tech Meetup,held at Hudson Hall, in the shadow of the Grove Street PATH station.

"The green rush made history in Jersey City,” said Dan Sullivan, organizer of the Jersey City Tech Meetup. “Over 200 techies flooded Hudson Hall for a unique opportunity to learn from the brightest minds in the cannabiz. Community and collaboration are at the heart of this industry, and that energy was ripe in the air.”

The energy around the room was indeed palpable. In fact, several of the evening’s panel moderators engaging in conversations on cannabis-related topics ranging from legislative to tech-related issues requested that the audience move their proactive, “noisy” networking to the back of the venue, or to take it outside because of the acoustics in the hall. Not surprisingly, some of the outdoor attendees seemed to be participating in a product sampling throughout the evening.

Regarding the position of the state government, Phil Murphy campaigned on a pro-recreational marijuana platform, and his latest comments indicate that he expects legalization in New Jersey before year-end. In his view, law enforcement resources will be freed up to tackle more serious issues, such as violent crimes. Murphy has also predicted that legalizing cannabis could potentially generate in the neighborhood of $300 million in annual tax revenues.

Overheard during the panels...

  • In terms of job opportunities in the ecosystem, tech seem to offer lots of promise. Patients and medical organizations both benefit from data collection and analytics. Data scientists are in demand, for instance. On the other side of the coin, there are also privacy concerns about what is being collected and how big data is being shared and utilized, especially when it is specific to individuals, as opposed to aggregate data.
  • Ag tech was also mentioned as an area with lots of runway for growth, from the seed level on up; and this could positively impact the end product – aka, cannabis – which is used in countless other products as well.
  • It was highly recommended that folks interested in various opportunities to enter and succeed in cannabiz team up with experienced industry professionals. Suggestions for collaborators included lawyers, accountants, marketing or PR consultants, folks with operations experience in states where marijuana is legal and seasoned financial execs with expertise in raising capital.
  • In terms of generating funding, alternative sources of capital such as family offices, angel/seed/friends-and-family rounds often make sense for cannabiz-related ventures. Expect to see more blockchain-related and initial-coin-offering (ICO) funding initiatives, although folks should be wary about potential legal concerns. 
  • To supplement money coming into the space, social media influencers and enthusiastic evangelists can be critical for accelerating future success.
  • Applying for a license to conduct business as a dispensary is also very important. Behaving in a compliant way after securing the requisite approval is even more important!
  • Businesses should be mindful of the surrounding community, and be good neighbors to others. This includes local relations with schools, houses of worship and other organizations. Lastly, where marijuana plant-facing or plant-utilizing businesses are concerned, proper ventilation is often a major issue. In this case, confining this type of business to an industrial zone is often the proper solution.
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