Home Social group ‘Meet the right people,’ say NJ cannabis industry insiders at sold-out business networking event

‘Meet the right people,’ say NJ cannabis industry insiders at sold-out business networking event


More than 200 motivated cannabis businesspeople gathered in Asbury Park this week for NJ Cannabis Insider’s first networking event since hitting the legal weed market this spring.

“I came to these [NJ Cannabis Insider] networking events since their launch four years ago. And this is where, whether I introduce people to other people, or get introduced to someone new, this is how I do my marketing,” said Stacey Udell, a partner at HBK CPAs who was among three speakers who spoke about their business networking strategies at the July 14 event. “That’s how I grow my network.”

Fellow panelist Matha Figaro, the owner of cannabis edibles company ButACake, said it’s okay to be bold at these events. “What worse could happen? Someone might say “no” to you, and if they do, who cares? Someone behind you will say “yes”. Just keep doing it. Keep firing your shot.

During a Q&A portion of the conference, Figaro asked members of the audience in the room to raise their hands if they were approved retailers.

After the individuals raised their hands, she said, “If you want to do business with a retailer, here it is. Several people immediately stood up to slip their business cards into the hands of those who had lifted them. Figaro then drew up a small list, arousing similar interest: farmers, industrialists, real estate agents, marketing, security, etc.

Mollie Hartman Lustig, president of cannabis at McLaughlin & Stern Law, rounded out the advice with this:

“Your network extends beyond this room. Your network is in every backyard barbecue you have this summer. It’s in every pool party,” she said, “because you never know who’s involved in that business — and not even who’s involved in that business, but may be involved in an ancillary service that can help you in this endeavor.

Presented by Hance Construction, the sold-out networking session at the Asbury Hotel’s indoor and outdoor banquet space hosted power players not just from New Jersey, but from across the region.

“I talked to people non-stop all night long,” Hance told NJ Cannabis Insider near the end of the rally. Hance Construction’s vendor area featured two large digital screens with QR codes and videos of cannabis facilities he has built. “The turnout was great.”

Hance Construction was recently recognized for excellence in commercial construction operations by NJ Cannabis Insider subscribers at its inaugural awards gala in June. In a Q&A for this week’s issue of NJ Cannabis Insider, Hance talked about the challenges he sees new licensees facing as cities erect barriers to entry and the real estate market seethes.

“You know there’s a process to build or open a facility in New Jersey,” he said, “and it doesn’t matter if you build and open a cannabis facility or a taco facility. You have to go through through all stages.

Other sponsors and vendors included HBK CPAs & Valuations, Cova Software, McLaughlin & Stern law, UFCW, Treez, Zenco and US Payment Services LLC.

Dozens of influencers from Garden State joined the serious networking session, including the president of New Jersey CannaBusiness Ed DeVeauxvice president Mariana Bays and board member Tara “Misu” Sargente, also owner of Blazin’ Bakery; Professor at the University of Stockton and entrepreneur Rob Mejia; Mike McQueeny, Foley Hoag cannabis president and general counsel of the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association; Gary CohenCEO of Cova Software; Wild PenniDeputy Executive Director of the State Enterprise Action Center; Lou Magazzuowner of Magazzu Law; Hugues Giordanounion representative at UFCW Local 360; Jill Cohenowner of CannaBoss Lady; Gabriel Eustachepartner and vice-president of Puffin; Suzanne Short, NJCTA co-founder and industry consultant; Lou Magazoupartner at Groupe OCan; Nichelle Santos and Jscary booker from CannaCoverage; Jack Palisthe National Cannabis Risk Prevention Service; David CunicCEO of UCS Advisors; Tony Gallo, an executive risk advisory group of Sapphire; among others.

NJ Cannabis Insider is currently working on its next conference, which will take place on September 15 at the Crown Plaza in Princeton. Presented by Weedmaps, the one-day conference will focus on serving New Jersey’s micro-licensees.

“We bill our fall conference as a bootcamp for new businesses and an accelerator for cannabis businesses that have already started,” said Enrique Lavine, publisher and editor of NJ Cannabis insider. “Instead of hosting panels with multiple speakers, we want to create more of a focused classroom with industry leaders as educators. We want attendees to leave with the tools, information and partners they need to succeed.

As part of NJ Cannabis Insider’s commitment to supporting social equity, tickets for qualified minority businesses will receive a significant discount to attend. For more information on the September 15 conference, go here.

“Like any insider who knows NJ Cannabis Insider, tickets are selling out fast. Don’t wait until the last minute to register,” Lavin said.

Additionally, NJ Cannabis Insider, in conjunction with Advance Local, is hosting a live virtual job fair July 25-27. Virtual Employer Booths will remain live until August 23, allowing visitors to explore and apply for jobs at their convenience. Over 4,000 job seekers participated in May’s hiring event. Register here.

NJ Cannabis Insider is a weekly subscription-based online business magazine and event group produced by NJ Advance Media, which also publishes NJ.com, The Star-Ledger and other affiliated newspapers. Are you interested in the NJ cannabis industry? Subscribe here for insider exclusives. follow us on LinkedIn.