Breaking out – nj.com

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

While the holiday honors U.S. military service members who died in combat, it is the unofficial start of the summer, celebrated with family cookouts and relaxing on the beach. Our cannabis life reporter Gabby Warren is back from maternity leave, and she’s reminded consumers what we can and cannot do if they plan to add weed to their weekend plans with this story.

Meanwhile, ICYMI, we announced who our first Breakout Business of the Year choice was for 2023: Holistic Solutions, founded by Suzan Nickelson. Read more inside.

The countdown to our June 8 Awards Show is on. Don’t miss out as this is a hot ticket, and seating is limited.

Next week is the CWCBExpo in the city, featuring NYC’s cannabis czar Dasheeda Dawson as the keynote speaker on Thursday. We’ll be there. We saw a few other Jersey power players listed, but let us know if you’re going to get your take on the event.

I also wanted to note that we’re introducing this week more regular coverage of the emerging psilocybin industry. Check out Gaetano “Guy” Lardieri’s terrific overview inside. We’ve been talking to stakeholders in New Jersey about putting on an informational, networking event around magic mushrooms. Hit me up if you’re interested in learning more.

Take care and until next time…

Enrique Lavín, publisher and editor

NJCI

Aristide Economopoulos for NJ Ad

  • Reporter’s Notebook: What a future court case could mean for cannabis in N.J.
  • Q&A with… Anthony Minniti, owner of Camden Apothecary at Bell Pharmacy
  • Prof Mejia’s Weed Corner: National convening of cannabis college educators highlight cannabis law courses
  • NJ Cannabis Insider 2023 Awards: Publisher’s Choice — Breakout Business of the Year
  • Industry Photos: NJ Cannabis Insider May 18 event
  • Research: Chronic cannabis use could lead to condition affecting digestive system
  • Psilocybin: Scutari to hold hearings in June to discuss magic mushroom bill
  • Psilocybin: History, research and relevance in N.J.
  • Guest Column: I can’t legally buy weed yet, but I studied cannabis in college – so can you
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Courtesy photo via Pixabay

What a future court case could mean for cannabis in N.J.

A court case took place in the Appellate Division this week to hear whether or not a multi-state business owner could use one of their family members to qualify for diversity certification.

While there were other companies in the lawsuit, the primary argument revolves around Holistic Industries, which is being accused by another operator, Curio, of diversity fraud in the 2019 RFA award process.

Legal documents allege Holistic Industries CEO Josh Genderson used his wife, stepmother and the wife of a lawyer associated with his business to qualify the company.

Paul Josephson of Duane Morris argued on behalf of Curio, saying in a post-trial interview that the act itself was the equivalent of fraud. He added the decision of the state Department of Treasury to give the Women-owned Business Enterprise certification, regardless of the familial ties, is arbitrary and capricious.

“This is like Jeff Bezos’ wife coming in and setting up a New Jersey LLC and saying ‘Amazon New Jersey, I should get a WBE,’ but she’s going to rely on Amazon and Jeff Bezos for her technical competence and money,” Josephson said.

Representing the Department of Treasury’s decision was state Deputy Attorney General James Robinson.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office declined to comment after the trial, but advanced the argument that the agency had discretion to make such a decision during the arguments.

Representing Holistic Industries is law firm Lowenstein Sandler, where former state Attorney General Chris Porrino took lead on the case. Also listed as counsel are Kathleen McGee and Ryan Goodwin.

In 2021 and 2022 legal filings, Porrino has previously stated his belief that the company had been properly certified and believed in the fairness of the Treasury Department’s scoring methodology.

Regardless of how it all shakes out, here’s a couple of key things to keep in mind.

To be or not to be

There are multiple sides to the arguments here, and the state AG’s office advanced an interesting one inside the courtroom: If the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission wanted to to set up a stricter process to vet such things, it may be able to do so. But it is the Department of Treasury that still exercises the authority to give the certification.

If the trial goes in Holistic’s favor, short of a legislative fix, it’s hard to see how this gets resolved.

One of the appellate judges, Robert Gilson, asked whether there was any precedent for a certification being reversed in such a manner.

Whatever shakes out in this case may signal that there are some loopholes a lot of activists and watchdog groups will challenge with fears that MSOs could view a potential ruling as a green light to pull the same thing Holistic Industries is accused of doing.

What that would look like would inevitably result in either more lawsuits or legislative pressure to make it more explicit that using family members to qualify wouldn’t be allowed — or at the very least would have to pass a stricter standard.

Whether or not that authority would be ceded to the CRC or the Department of Treasury remains to be seen.

Shell game concern

Another concern that’s been consistently brought up by multiple stakeholders outside of court is that some companies are being used as shells that will eventually be bought out by large operators.

At one of our recent meetups, Edmund DeVeaux, then-N.J. CannaBusiness Assn. president, posited a buyout offer could still be life-changing for many applicants.

Another question that comes after that, however, is whether or not these are true options, or are they options that are being forced upon applicants due to barriers to entry? Some would say, Is there a really a choice when obstacles are being put up by the licensure system to inevitably drive people to said decision?

Whether or not to sell a cannabis business is always a hard call to make for business owners. Making sure the industry is as open as possible so that people are not driven to those decisions in a predatory format could be just as critical, insiders have said. That dynamic could even improve the dealmaking leverage for those that do want to sell their businesses.

If a large operator knows the system is not going to let you move forward, that business offer can be low, because they know the seller really has no other options. If the buyer knows that the seller still has a chance of getting a license and being successful without them, that increases the amount of valuation for said company.

Data

Data is going to be all the more important for something like this. Data on majority ownership and whether or not that majority ownership is changing in the wake of conditional licensure to full licensure (or full licensure to opening day) is going to be an important component of keeping track of these sorts of things.

The owner who is listed on the application, the owner on opening day and the owner two years from opening day can always change.

At the ground level of this market, many people are still struggling to get their foot in. So discourse tends to be about how to get past the barriers that prevent people from getting in.

It’s an important conversation. If you can’t get your foot in the door then you can’t even talk about how you want to decorate the place. That being said, the next level of discourse after the door is how successful many of these businesses are or are not going to be after their licensure.

Ownership has always been a risky endeavor and plenty of businesses do fail within the first couple of years, which means buyouts will be imminent.

It’s not just about the diversity demographics of the market, it will also become about whether or not that diversity can be sustained throughout the years.

Overall takeaway

The case decision is expected to come within six weeks. All of that being said, whichever way this case goes won’t be the end. This case could be the beginning of questioning the type of accountability and oversight that’s being put in place. Those things factor into whether or not a craft market can take place, or whether the craft market will simply end up being subsidiaries of those with the most resources.

— Jelani Gibson

Tony Minniti - njci

Anthony Minniti

A conversation with Camden Apothecary owner and retail-license applicant Tony Minniti, who is advocating for dispensaries to be able operate within pharmacies. This Q&A was edited for clarity. Find Minniti on LinkedIn.

Q: What is the history of your family pharmacy in Camden, New Jersey?

A: We are a combination of two of the oldest traditions in community pharmacy. Bell Pharmacy (opened in 1931) is the oldest, continually operating pharmacy. My grandfather Ben Doganiero purchased Buono’s Pharmacy in 1939. Our family has practiced here ever since. We have the longest family legacy in the city operating its oldest pharmacy.

Q: Is it true that you found an old sign or a bottle that showed that one of your relatives who was a pharmacist compounded cannabis in your pharmacy?

A: That’s close. When our family purchased Bell Pharmacy, there were years of trash and treasure to explore. I’m a pharmacy memorabilia enthusiast, so this was terrific for me. One item left behind was a bottle of cannabis tincture with the Bell Pharmacy label printed on it.

Though it wasn’t my family, it was the original pharmacist, Henry Bellitz, who was dispensing cannabis out of this very building before it was subject to prohibition.

Q: What was your aha! moment when you thought you should combine a pharmacy with a dispensary?

A: My position has always been that a pharmacy doesn’t need special permission to dispense cannabis if it’s been determined to be for medical use and prescribed appropriately. It fits the definition of the drug and falls under a pharmacist’s authority to dispense.

One reason I felt that my approach should have been seriously examined was because of the restriction of access to cannabis because of exclusionary zoning by municipalities. Since cannabis has been determined to be a drug by the state, pharmacies shouldn’t need special permission or separate zoning to dispense cannabis. My approach would address this continued problem.

The model I am bringing to market is a hybrid of a pharmacy and dispensary together, which hasn’t been attempted. Ultimately, dispensaries belong in a pharmacy — at least when there’s a medical-use application.

Q: Do you see traditional pharmaceutical products working alongside or separately from the uses of cannabis?

A: Both. Though, I see great potential with traditional pharmaceuticals working along with cannabis, for example, in areas such as substance-use disorders.

I’ve observed alcoholics who have failed in multiple attempts at treatment. By utilizing cannabis rather than alcohol they were finally successful in stopping drinking. Granted, this example is anecdotal and based on my personal experiences, but if we can move people from alcohol (and possibly opiates) to cannabis, which is far less dangerous and addictive, I believe this would represent real progress in addiction treatment and management.

Q: Who do you expect your most enthusiastic customers to be? And why?

A: We’re doing something that’s unique. We plan to focus on three distinct customer groups to ensure a positive experience for their distinct needs.

First, the medical patients will be served immediately, likely on the pharmacy side (but not in the pharmacy proper) of the building. They won’t have to wait in line behind cannabis enthusiasts who like to talk to the budtenders or other recreational purchasers. I want medical patients to feel prioritized and able to receive the real medical attention they deserve.

Second, we’ll have a boutique area for cannabis connoisseurs located on the second floor. That’s where we will have the high-end products and enthusiasts can talk cannabis without being rushed.

Third, the first story is for the casual customer. They know exactly what they want, typically edibles, vapes, or joints or those who want to make online pickups. This area will serve consumers who just want to pick up their products and be on their way quickly.

Finally, we’re going to have a robust home delivery service. Through Bell Pharmacy, we have extensive experience delivering potent pharmaceuticals, so we’re well prepared to handle cannabis.

Q: What is the most important thing that our readers should know about your business?

A: Camden Apothecary will offer something completely different. We’re going to extend our old fashioned family pharmacy service to our dispensary to ensure a positive, personal experience for both medical and recreational customers.

My grandfather took me to work at his pharmacy, Doganiero’s in Camden when I was 14 years old. I instantly fell in love with business and the people of Camden. I’m 53 now, and I’ve never left my city. This is just the next chapter.

— Rob Mejia | For NJ Cannabis Insider

NJ Cannabis Insider May 18 event

NJ Cannabis Insider’s spring meetup was jam packed with power players, conducting business on the networking floor.

Our speakers Tahir Johnson of Simply Pure Trenton NJ, Suzan Nickelson of Holistic Solutions Dispensary, and Eugenia Tzoannopoulos of Sweetspot Brands, offered great insights into partnerships under franchise agreements, getting off the ground and building teams.

Publisher and editor Enrique Lavin announced who his choice for Breakout Business of the Year is for the 2023 Awards.

Special thanks to our sponsors and vendors: NJ Business Action Center, Hance Construction, Inc., Simply Pure Trenton NJ, Sweetspot Brands, CannPowerment (But-A-Cake), US Payment and CannaCoverage Insurance

Click through the slideshow for images that captured the night. Among the insiders in attendance were several NJ Cannabis Insider Awards nominees, including:

Matha Figaro of CannPowerment & ButACake, Nathan Yanovitch, Alejandro Benjamin and Anthony Feliciano of Puffin Store NJ, Brendon Robinson and Stan Okoro of Minority Cannabis Academy, Ronald Mondello of Municipal Cannabis Attorney, Gaetano Lardieri of Future Entheogenic Medicines, Nichelle Santos of CannaCoverage, Jake Robbins and Ralph Betancourt of Longview Strategic, Giovanni Paul and Sharquana Paul of Noire Dispensary Inc, Tim Weigand of Valley Wellness, Stacey Udell of HBK CPAs & Consultants, Eric Snyder of Trichome Analytical, Ellen Bolin and Michael Bolin of Cannaspire, Rob Bedsworth of Hance Construction, and Faye Coleman of Pure Genesis.

Power players we spotted included:

Penni Wild, Angela Speakman and Bionda Rizvani of the New Jersey Business Action Center, Stu Zakim of Bridge Strategic Communications, Trina Ragsdale of Jane’s Joint Dispensary, Pravin Asokan of ANJA Dispensary, Nick Netta Jr. of Netta Architects, Patricia Gregory of Canna Remedies, James Barrett of CannPowerment, Jack Palis of IMPACT, Meme Wiggins of Memes Danckk World, Michael Ziegler of Indigo Dispensary, , Kate Juliano, Carl Giordano and Alex Svecharny of Ascend Wellness Holdings, Mark Weaver of allspace, Patricia Walker of NJ Cannabis Certified, Shani Madaminova and Ravil Valishev of Leaf Haus, Eziokwubundu Ukponu of New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program, Thomas Spooner of US Payment Service, Andrew Saltzmann of ZY Labs, David Little of Inclusion Gourmet/Immunity Goodness, John DeMaio of Lucky Buds, Marianne Bays of New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, Spencer Belz of Last Mile Cannabis Consulting, and NJ Cannabis Insider regular contributor Rob Mejia of Stockton University and Our Community Harvest.

— NJ Cannabis Insider staff

Rob Mejia - njci

National convening of cannabis college educators highlight cannabis law courses

By Rob Mejia, a regular contributor to NJ Cannabis Insider, is a teaching specialist at Stockton University where he teaches the cannabis courses. He is also the author of “The Essential Cannabis Book” and “The Essential Cannabis Journal.” His cannabis education company is called Our Community Harvest.

As cannabis legalization spreads across the United States, so too does cannabis higher education.

At a recent Stockton University Cannabis Curriculum Convening, one of the topics discussed is what to teach in a Cannabis Law class. This was one of 12 panels receiving high marks in a post-event survey.

As you may imagine, because rules and regulations change rapidly, course materials change during the semester, as well. There is also the issue of interpreting what cannabis laws say — and equally important — what they don’t say.

The Cannabis Law panel featured Mike McQueeny from New York Law School who moderated the panel, with Jess Gonzalez from Hudson County Community College, Koral Fritz from Lake Superior State University, Alejandro Rodriguez from Golden Gate University, and John Fraser from Western Michigan University Cooley School of Law.

Watch this high-powered collection of cannabis law educators in this 45-minute panel discussion.

The purpose of the convening started with a simple wish- to gather professors from across the country to discuss what we teach in class. Our group has grown rapidly and this year we welcomed first-year participants from schools as diverse as:

  • New York University
  • Stony Brook University
  • Rutgers University
  • York College of Pennsylvania
  • University of Cincinnati
  • LIM College
  • University of Virginia
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Cornell University
  • City College of San Francisco
  • Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • University of Colorado

Next year we will continue to discuss core cannabis classes such as Teaching the Medical Cannabis Class and Teaching the Business Cannabis Class while addressing employment opportunities and continued challenges.

At the end of the convening, it was remarked that we have a great responsibility to our students because we are educating the next generation of cannabis operators and employees. By giving them a strong cannabis education foundation, we hope to see a fair, compliant, and opportunity-rich industry come to fruition.

Prof. Mejia’s Weed Corner is a regular column for NJ Cannabis Insider, focusing on news, trends and innovation in the local cannabis market. Reach out to him at Robert.Mejia@stockton.edu

Suzan Nickelson -njci

Suzan Nickelson’s New Jersey cannabis dispensary Holistic Solutions was named the Publisher’s Choice 2023 NJ Cannabis Insider Breakout Business of the Year.

Publisher’s Choice — Breakout Business of the Year: Holistic Solutions

Founded by Suzan C. Nickelson, Holistic Solutions is a medicinal and recreational dispensary, originally licensed from the 2019 round of New Jersey state cannabis applications.

Holistic Solutions made history in February 2023, when it became the first Black-owned medical cannabis store to open in New Jersey — a ribbon cutting ceremony coincided with Black History Month.

The South Jersey dispensary, at 451 White Horse Pike in Atco in Camden County, made history again this year after opening for adult-use consumers on May 6. The dispensary features women- and BIPOC-owned cannabis brands, such as Miss Grass and But-A-Cake.

A company is nothing without a strong leader, and Suzan — a mother of three who is of Jamaican and Taino descent — aims to revolutionize the current industry through Holistic Solutions by providing quality, affordable cannabis, along with education and wellness services, she said. As a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, she’s become someone of a folk hero to other women business owners.

“It’s about intentionality, perseverance and resilience,” she told an audience at a recent NJ Cannabis Insider business networking event. “Don’t let anyone mansplain anything to you. Because women in this space, sometimes we’re not taken seriously, and we’re not given what we deserve.”

Earlier this year, she advocated for her employees to form a union, an agreement that ensures everyone at the store grows together. Team building is something that Suzan puts a high value on, she said.

“Having a cohesive team has been very critical in being able to deal with the highs and lows in the cannabis industry,” said said. “Everyday it’s a constant pivot.

Suzan said she doesn’t call her front counter salespeople “bud tenders.” “We call them ‘ambassadors’ because they’re the first contact that you have with our store. We want you to have an enjoyable experience and that experience you’ve had in return.”

Suzan has 24 years of experience in public service, last serving as the state Administrator of Employee Relations, overseeing statewide operations. She started her state career in 1997 protecting New Jersey’s most vulnerable children from abuse. Prior to serving the state, she worked for several nonprofit and advocacy agencies.

Suzan is also the founder of Ital Daughters LLC, a cannabis and hemp consulting company, specializing in assisting minorities, women and veterans along with local municipalities and stakeholders in understanding the compliance and regulatory aspects of the industry.

Being vested in the communities where cannabis businesses open is one of her biggest pieces of advice to businesses applying for licenses to operate in New Jersey. She said she was attending community events, such as veteran fairs, local parades and the like, long before she was awarded a permit to operate.

“Make sure that they can trust you,” she said. “Show up. Get to know the community…When we opened we put $1.3 million back into the community for professional services in our build out.”

— Enrique Lavín | publisher and editor

***

Sponsoring the NJ Cannabis Insider 2023 Business Awards is a unique opportunity to put your company center stage before the Who’s Who in the New Jersey cannabis industry and the world. As the first-ever awards program recognizing excellence in the Garden State, local consumers and insiders near and far will be watching to see who was voted the best in class. Contact Heather Long, Event Partnerships, (848) 828-0247.

Zoe Weaver -njci

Zoe Weaver, a Stockton University graduating senior who minored in Cannabis Studies.

Chronic cannabis use could lead to condition that causes vomiting, nausea, constipation, stomach pains

By Zoe Weaver, a Stockton University graduating senior who minored in Cannabis Studies. Find her in LinkedIn.

In New Jersey, recreational cannabis use is still fairly new as we just completed our first year of legalization. Cannabis use around the United States for both recreational use and medical use is still a popular issue as more and more states are decriminalizing and legalizing the use of cannabis.

Cannabis is well known for its healing properties, such as relieving anxiety and depression, increasing appetite, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, providing chronic pain relief, reducing inflammation, preventing seizures, and even helping cancer patients manage their symptoms during treatment.

Although there are many cannabis benefits, new research has revealed a condition affecting digestive system caused by chronic cannabis use. Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (or CHS) is a new medical condition first documented in 2004 by researchers J.H. Allen and his colleagues in the Department of Medicine at Mt. Barker Hospital in South Australia. In their research, after looking at the symptoms of nine chronic cannabis users, they saw an alarming pattern.

The common symptoms found among these patients were cyclic vomiting and nausea, abdominal pain, and relief from taking long hot showers. After further research, Allen and his colleagues concluded these nine patients were suffering from CHS.

After further research, the condition and its symptoms have been broken down into three stages.

The first stage is the Prodromal Stage, which consists of early morning nausea, stomach pains, burping, heartburn, and constipation. There is also a chance that a fear of vomiting (emetophobia) may develop, too. This phase is often drawn out since people are unaware that cannabis is causing these symptoms. People actually smoke more during this phase to try to combat nausea and stomach pains. This phase can last anywhere from months to even years.

The second phase, the Hyperemetic Stage, is the most intense. Symptoms include: constant nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, decreased appetite and food intake, dehydration, acid reflux, chills, burping, diarrhea, and excessive sweating. A prominent feature of this stage is the patient taking multiple hot showers, also known as compulsive bathing, to relieve symptoms. Case studies show that 91% of patients in this phase will take these hot showers, some spending 3-6 hours bathing and some even up to 20 times a day.

This is when the symptoms are so severe people finally seek professional medical help. Since this condition is still misunderstood, medical examiners often aren’t sure what the problem is. Patients may spend thousands of dollars on medical bills until they finally figure out the issue. Other conditions are normally diagnosed first, such as gastrointestinal infections, pancreatitis, or gastroparesis. Once they are finally diagnosed with CHS, patients are treated using IVs, lorazepam, hot showers/baths, and the cessation of cannabis use (which could include rehab or further drug counseling).

The third and final phase is called the Recovery Phase. It consists of a decrease in symptoms and a return of regular eating patterns. Furthermore, the only known cure for this condition is to completely stop consuming cannabis. In the case studies researched, there were no records of anyone who could continue smoking cannabis after experiencing CHS without experiencing the same issues.

With cannabis use continuing to grow, we can use research to help medical providers care for patients who suffer from conditions like CHS better and faster. But the first step is to spread awareness of this and other conditions to better educate those who are heavy cannabis users. The overall goal is to encourage responsible adult cannabis use.

Psilocybin

Psilocybin and other psychedelics could help patients process the challenges of a cancer diagnosis.

Scutari to hold hearings in June to discuss magic mushroom bill

This week, state Senate President Nick Scutari, the Democrat who last summer introduced a bill that would legalize psilocybin, announced he will be holding a hearing in June to discuss it. Psilocybin is the hallucinogenic compound that makes magic mushrooms magic.

“We’re gonna have a hearing on its efficacy and its medical uses,” Scutari told reporters Monday. Our colleague Brent Johnson was at the press conference. “There’s certainly some good stuff there that we want to ferret out.”

Scutari, who was the architect of New Jersey’s marijuana laws, said the psychedelic drug’s therapeutic benefits for addiction, mental health, PTSD, among other maladies are becoming more broadly known.

“Some people want to testify and see what kind of program we could put together,” he said. “The bill itself needs work. But the topic needs to be discussed.”

Scutari’s bill would allow New Jerseyans over 21 to use mushrooms and to grow it at home without a prescription. On the federal level, the FDA granted in 2018 the substance “breakthrough-therapy” status for treating depression.

— NJ Cannabis Insider staff

Get to know psilocybin: History, research and relevance in N.J.

To help get a better understanding of the drug, its medicinal benefits and the emerging market, we are inviting experts in the psilocybin industry to offer white papers and thought-leadership.

By Gaetano “Guy” Lardieri, a cannabis researcher and the founder of THCBD, as well as founder of Future Ethnogenic Medicine, a psilocybin research and consultancy company. Find him on LinkedIn.

Psychedelics are a class of drugs that alter an individual’s perception, thoughts and feelings. Various compounds in several forms ,such as teas, have been used for thousands of years for healing, in religious ceremonies and in community settings.

Compounds like LSD were studied for their therapeutic potential by such prestigious institutions as Harvard. These substances were made illegal with their emergent popularity in the counterculture movements of the 1950s and 1960s as well as the War on Drugs, primarily against Black and brown peoples and poor communities.

This all led to the halt of research being conducted at that time with these drugs. In recent years, there has been a strong renewed interest in the therapeutic use of entheogens, leading to ongoing clinical trials and the potential for legalization and regulation.

The history must be looked at through the lens of all the indigenous peoples and cultures that were the stewards of these compounds for thousands of years and we must make sure homage is paid in the correct manor and perhaps reciprocity.

Research

Several ongoing clinical trials are being conducted with various psychedelic drugs in specific indications to determine their safety, efficacy, scalability and therapeutic potential.

There are currently 116 trials now, actively recruiting volunteers for research with psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, ibogaine, mescaline, and 5-MeO-DMT.

One company leading the way is MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics). They are using MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy and molly, in Phase 3 for PTSD. MAPS plans for FDA submission for an new drug application (NDA) for MDMA by the end of 2023 early 2024.

Some of the major players in this space with current clinical trials in Phase 1 and 2 are:

  • Compass Pathways: Psilocybin for depression
  • MindMed: LSD for anxiety
  • Cybin: Psilocybin for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Atai Life Sciences: Ppsilocybin/ibogaine/MDMA, R-ketamine, S-ketamine for depression, anxiety, addiction
  • Field Trip Health: ketamine for MDD
  • Numinus Wellness: MDMA for PTSD, and psilocybin substance use disorder
  • Usona Institute: Psilocybin for MDD
  • Eleusis Therapeutics: LSD low dose for safety and tolerability
  • Entheon Biomedical: DMT for addiction.

In 2017, MDMA received breakthrough therapy designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 2018, psilocybin received the designation for treatment-resistant depression or TRD. In 2019, the FDA approved esketamine also known as S-ketamine for patients with TRD.

In 2022, positive results from the largest study of a psychedelic compound in history, a Phase 2b double-blind, randomized controlled study got TRD, were presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.

That same year, leaders of the Substance Use and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services express their interest to law makers in a public-private taskforce to guide on therapeutic psychedelics.

It’s safe to say that within the next five years there will be major compounds FDA approved for specific indications that will shift the paradigm of mental health treatment globally, potentially helping the more than 1 billion people who are affected by metal health disorders.

This will provide the field of psychiatry new tools to treat mental health in more than 20 years since selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors have been on the market, including Zoloft, Prozac and Brintellix.

Researchers are working towards compounds that have increased efficacy/neuroplasticity, more rapid onset, and a shorter duration of psychedelics effects. Perhaps even looking at removing the psychoactive component and leaving the therapeutic component of the compound.

Relevance in the region

New York and New Jersey currently have magic-mushroom bills in the senate and assembly.

In New Jersey, Bill S2934 was introduced by State Senate President Nicholas Scutari in June of 2022. In the Assembly, A4911 was introduced in December of 2022 by Asms. Ray Mukherji, Herbert Conaway, James Kennedy, and Clinton Calabrese.

Both New Jersey bills are named “Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act.”

The bills authorize the production and use of psilocybin to promote health and wellness; decriminalizes, and expunges past offenses involving, psilocybin production, possession, use and distribution.

Our own U.S. Sen. Cory Booker supports psychedelics research. In May of 2022, Sens. Booker, a Democrat, and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called on the National Institutes of Health and the FDA to conduct more research into the potential uses of psychedelics.

There was bipartisan support to promote psychedelic research in November of 2022 when Sens. Booker and Rand Paul (R-KY) teamed up to introduced legislation that reduces the unreasonably burdensome rules and regulations that delay or prevent researchers from studying — and from patients accessing — drugs that are classified in Schedule 1, which claims these drugs have no accepted medical use or lack accepted safety for use.

New Jersey is known as the “medicine chest of the world” as it is home to more than 3,000 life sciences companies. Twenty of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have a presence in New Jersey, employing more than 75,000 people. It is often cited as having one of the highest concentrations per square mile of scientists and engineers in the country.

The atmosphere is ripe to conduct state-of-the art research/clinical trials for psychedelics and cannabis which can rival most other prestigious and ivy league institutions currently conducting research in this area. As stated in S2934, a 19-member advisory board is to be appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy. The board will write the guidelines for the psilocybin bill and be run out of the state Department of Health.

Jodi Schwartz  -njci

I can’t legally buy weed yet, but I studied cannabis in college – so can you

By Jodi Schwartz, a cannabis studies student at Stockton University, and NJ Cannabis Insider intern.

When I first toured Stockton University as a junior in high school in 2019, my family and

I asked a million questions about the newly established cannabis minor. Considering that adult-use cannabis was illegal at the time, other families we knew rolled their eyes or gave baffled looks at me and my parents.

What they didn’t know was that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which comes along with chronic pain and severe mental health symptoms. I became a medicinal patient soon after, and discovered that cannabis increased my motivation, improved my mood, and relieved pain that otherwise would be unbearable.

I became dedicated to educating myself on all aspects of cannabis so that I could eventually use my knowledge to help others who may be suffering.

I wanted to develop my academic career before diving into the industry. As I’m wrapping up my undergraduate studies, my journey has included starting a new cannabis club on campus, securing an internship at a media company and appearing as a speaker on educational panels. While we had a cannabis club previously, it lacked various components that are essential for engagement.

This year, I started the Cannabis Ospreys: Creating Professionals in Cannabis. Its mission is to educate the student population, providing it with resources to consider entering the cannabis industry, while giving back to local communities that have been harmed by the War on Drugs.

Since the club launched in February 2023, some of the things we’ve accomplished include:

  • Hosted a food drive for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission
  • Advocated for an indoor and outdoor grow facility in Galloway
  • Collected clothes to donate to the Covenant House of Atlantic City
  • Hosted an educational 4/20 event, featuring guest speakers, cannabis themed trivia, prizes from local dispensaries, and free food
  • Toured a CBD processing center here in Galloway
  • Raised money for the club to continue serving the Stockton community

After completing various courses, such as herbal psychopharmacology, social botany and medical cannabis, I felt that I was ready to dip my toe into the professional world as an intern.

Because I am 20 years old, I’m currently unable to work with flower in New Jersey. Thanks to the support by Stockton University and Professor Rob Mejia, I’m able to write this article for you now. My eight-week internship at NJ Cannabis Insider included working closely with Enrique Lavín, the editor and publisher.

NJ Cannabis Insider started publishing once a week in 2018, carrying guest columns and Q&As with some of the Garden State’s most prominent insiders in the industry. My project was to review the archival content in order resurface whatever may still be relevant in 2023 and beyond. I was also assigned to pilot the publication’s social media for one of its major conferences, in addition to contributing articles with my point of view.

This year, I also had the privilege of speaking alongside other passionate students from across the nation at Stockton’s third Cannabis Curriculum Convening on the Student Voice in Cannabis panel. Speaking to students from other universities has given me insight on what sections of cannabis education may need more development. I plan on incorporating some of those ideas into the club for the next academic year by expanding our topics of discussion and branching out to more “niche” sectors of the cannabis industry.

“Students knew more about cannabis than previous panels,” Prof. Mejia told me after the virtual event. “The knowledge has increased year after year. “They were very confident in their career and had a large variety of choices for courses in the cannabis curriculum.”

Stockton University has given students the ability to learn from those with a wealth of knowledge in cannabis along with hosting amazing events that connect students with their future career.

I hope that my experience in this blooming industry will encourage others to embark on their journey into the cannabis space.

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For cannabis recruitment solutions please contact Deneen Wright, dwright@njadvancemedia.com or call 201-324-5092.

Jenali Gibson

Jelani Gibson is the lead reporter for Cannabis Insider. He previously covered gun violence for the Kansas City Star.

Susan Livio

Susan K. Livio is a Statehouse reporter for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com who covers health, social policy and politics

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