Do you want to maximize your profit potential, and perhaps get into a whole new line of work?

Have you thought about getting involved in something new and exciting?

How about becoming a part of the recreational marijuana industry in New Jersey?

Hundreds of entrepreneurs and business professionals will gather at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Thursday evening for a special New Jersey Cannabis Symposium.

According to Stu Zakim, director of communications for the Marijuana Business Association, Gov. Phil Murphy’s support of legalizing marijuana in the Garden State has prompted tremendous interest in the business opportunities that will soon follow.

He said the symposium will cover a variety of topics, including an update on efforts to legalize recreational marijuana.

“We’re going to have people talking about business and license opportunities. We’re going to talk about preparing an application, what to expect and the mistakes to avoid.”

The Symposium will also cover “real-estate opportunities, business plans, tax and financial information, things touching on equipment and talent sourcing.”

Zakim stressed this is not a "Cheech and Chong" kind of exercise for potheads looking to get high.

“The cannabis industry is a real business and we approach it as a real business with real needs that would be the same in any other industry,” he said.

Zakim said even though a bill legalizing marijuana could pass in the next few months in New Jersey, recreational weed probably won’t go on sale until two years from now.

“There are a lot of things that have to happen between the time the governor signs the legislation and stores open.”

He noted U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear that the Trump administration supports the federal ban on marijuana and does not agree with the position taken by the Obama administration that marijuana legalization should be a matter for individual states to address.

“There is a fear, in reality, that someone could knock on your door if you’re a dispensary owner, make a raid, take away your product and shut you down."

Zakim said more than 600 people are expected to attend the Symposium with participants paying between $200 and $400 apiece to attend, which is really expensive but “it is really a way to, no pun intended, weed out the casual observer of the cannabis industry and really deal with people who are serious about it.”

He said if people are interested in opening their own cannabis store in the future, “they’re going to need half a million dollars to a million dollars to get off the ground. This is not for the faint of heart.”

He stressed getting involved with recreational marijuana before it really takes off is a wonderful opportunity.

“Cannabis is a magical plant, it has a lot of attributes. Obviously, people use it to get high, but you should also consider all of the medical miracles that it helps accomplish.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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