Focus On Women-Owned Cannabis Businesses At Premier N.J. Business Conference Oct. 12

logos for women-owned N.J. cannabis brands -njci

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission noted that of 1,600 applications more than 400 are women-owned business. This year, just about half of the nearly 50 new dispensaries that opened are founded, owned or run by women.

During Women’s History Month this year, NJ Cannabis Insider put a spotlight on several emerging women-owned businesses at its March conference. For its fall conference on Oct. 12, more than a dozen will be featured on the vendor floor, including dispensaries, laboratories, manufacturers, delivery services and ancillary businesses such as consulting and insurance firms.

The fall 2023 Women’s Discovery Area will feature these companies:

  • CannaRemedies NJ, a soon-to-open retail dispensary in Ewing, co-founded and led by Monica Werkheiser
  • Elevated by the CannaBossLady, a recently opened independent dispensary in Maplewood, founded and run by Jill Cohen
  • Nightjar, a soon-to-open dispensary in Bloomfield, founded by Francesca DeRogatis and Amanda Rositano
  • Scarlet Express, a delivery serviced owned and operated by Claudia Post
  • Miss Grass, a lifestyle brand known for its stylish mini pre-rolls, co-founded by Kate Miller
  • PRECIOUS Canna Co, a soon-to-open luxury cannabis brand founded by Precious Osagie Erese

Other women-owned cannabis operators exhibiting at the conference are:

  • Queen City is an independent, dispensary in Plainfield, co-founded and led by Sarah Stretchberry
  • Union Chill, an independent dispensary in Lambertville, founded by Alexis Berends and Laurie McHugh
  • Valley Wellness, an independent dispensary in Raritan, founded and led by Sarah Trent
  • Brute’s Roots, a dispensary and cultivation company in Egg Harbor, founded by Kelly Gatto
  • Noiré Dispensary, a recently opened dispensary in Maplewood co-founded Sharquana Paul
  • Puffin Store NJ, a recently opened dispensary in New Brunswick, co-founded by Gabrielle Eustache
  • Holistic Solutions, the first Black-owned dispensary to open in New Jersey, in Atco in Camden County, founded by Suzan Nickelson

Women holding executive positions in the national cannabis industry grew by only a percentage point, to 23.1%, according to MJBizDaily’s 2022 report, “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Cannabis Industry.” That’s down nearly 15% to 36.8% in 2019, a year before the pandemic, the report found.

“At NJ Cannabis Insider events, we’ve made it a point to ensure at least half of our speakers are always women and that we provide several points of entry for women-owned businesses to amplify their brands,” said Enrique Lavín, publisher and editor of NJ Cannabis Insider. “We aim to reflect the diversity of New Jersey and its marketplace. It’s why women-to-men parity is a priority.”

Doors open at 9 a.m. with cannabis trailblazer Wanda James’ keynote address opening the all-day event at 10 a.m. The conference ends at 5 p.m. Attendees can join an official after party later that night minutes away in Downtown Newark. Tickets ($295) are limited for the conference. A select number of discounted tickets were made available for social equity applicants. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.

Here’s the full lineup, presentation topics, sponsors, vendors and special discovery areas:


  • Wanda James, founder and CEO of Simply Pure

CannaTalks & Presentations


Meet Your Regulators: Understanding How CRC Works For You

  • Dianna Houenou, chairwoman of the N.J. Cannabis Regulatory Commission
  • Wesley McWhite III, CRC director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Government Services

Grants & Training: What the N.J. Government Is Doing to Help You

  • Tauhid Chappell, NJ Business Action Center (NJBAC), Cannabis Training Academy
  • Genna Jones, program manager at New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA)
  • Donald Newman, manager of Small Business Advocacy, NJBAC


The Road to License Approval Is Never a Straight Line

  • Ellie Siegel, CEO and founder of the cannabis consulting firm Longview Strategic
  • Mollie Hartman Lustig, an attorney, is the chair of McLaughlin and Stern’s Cannabis Practice Group

Wholesale, Distribution & Delivery: Following the Road to Success

  • Tiyahnn Bryant, Co-founder, CEO of Roll Up Life Inc.
  • Claudia Post, CEO of Scarlet Express and MOST Consulting Group

Manufacturing & Edibles: Expansion is Here. Infusion Demonstration

  • Tara Misu, CEO of Blazin’ Bakery and Green Alchemy
  • Rob Mejia, author, founder of Our Community Harvest, professor at Stockton University


Essentials of Growing Indoors and Outdoors

  • Smrita Choubey, founder and CEO of Veda Farms
  • Spencer Belz, marketing director at Veda Farms


Talk to The Mayor and Council President: Insights on Municipal Approval

  • Ron Mondello, municipal attorney at Ronald P. Mondello, Esq.
  • Adrian O. Mapp, mayor of City of Plainfield
  • Joyce E. Watterman, Jersey City Council President

Supply and Demand

From Seed to Sale: Why It’s Vital to Know Your Supply Chain

  • Suzan Nickelson, founder of Holistic Solutions, NJ Cannabis Insider sponsor of Social Equity Discovery Area
  • Kate Juliano, senior account manager, head of Social Equity-NJ at Ascend Wellness Holdings

Commerce Readiness

Safeguarding Success: Compliance, Security and Commerce Readiness

  • Tony Gallo, CEO of Sapphire Risk Advisory Group
  • Jacob Hicks, associate Vice President at Tenax Strategies

Capital & Spending

Funding Your Build: Knowing the Costs Before Raising Money

  • Faye Coleman, CEO of Pure Genesis and Endo Dispensary and Consumption Lounge
  • Art Hance, CEO of Hance Construction, NJ Cannabis Insider’s Founding Sponsor

Special Sessions

Ask This Attorney Anything: Licensing, Strategic Planning, SOPs, etc.

  • Chirali Patel, founder and CEO of Blaze Responsibly and Blaze Law

Local and federal policy: What’s Next For N.J.’s Cannabis Marketplace? presented by Simply Pure

  • Wanda James, founder and CEO of Denver-based Simply Pure
  • Bill Caruso, a partner at Archer Law, is the former executive director of the state Assembly Majority Office. He also represents New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform and is on the board of New Jersey CannaBusiness Assn.
  • Tahir Johnson, owner of of Simply Pure Trenton

The Speed Networking Session presented by Tenax Strategies

NJ Cannabis Insider has partnered with marketing and PR firm THCIAAB to moderate the 40-minute, intense speed-networking session designed to help license-holders meet other license-holders and all the other businesses they need to build and grow their operations.

Sponsors and exhibitors

  • Holistic Solutions, founded and owned by Suzan Nickelson, one of the first licensed cannabis dispensaries in New Jersey, and one of the few owned by a woman of color, we understand the dynamics of the legacy market and are uniquely positioned to navigate the opportunities of the legalized cannabis industry. Holistic Solutions is sponsor of The Social Equity Discovery Area.
  • Tenax Strategies takes cannabis businesses from concept to commence operations, managing projects and cutting through the red tape so cultivators, retailers, manufacturers and others can focus on getting their doors open and join this exciting and growing industry. Tenax is sponsor of The Speed-Networking Session.
  • Sapphire Risk, founded by Tony Gallo, identifies security risks and help you prevent them. Sapphire reviews all aspects of your business to protect you from both internal and external threats, providing a sustainable security strategy that grows with your business.
  • Financial Resources Federal Credit Union, has been in business for over 100 years. Formerly the Ethicon Employees Federal Credit Union formed by a group of Johnson & Johnson employees we’re now one of the largest Credit Unions in New Jersey. FRFCU is NJCI conference lunch sponsor.
  • Sweetspot Farms is an East Coast cannabis company with 11 licenses across five states, including retail, processing and cultivation. In 2022, Sweetspot launched Sweetspot Franchising, which was created to support entrepreneurs and social equity applicants who are interested in entering the industry.
  • Brute’s Roots, a women-owned dispensary and cultivation founded by two South Jersey natives with strong roots in the community. The cultivation team is currently growing in greenhouses and recently had its first harvestof sun-grown flower.
  • Puffin Store NJ, a certified woman- and minority-owned company with a dispensary in Downtown New Brunswick in 2023. Puffin is committed to transparency, safety and customer satisfaction every day.
  • Zenco, secure and cashless payment solutions for cannabis, offering a customizable transaction fee that allows merchants to decide what they want to charge their customers.
  • Cova builds innovative retail software solutions specifically for dispensaries. Its POS & Inventory Management platform is designed to simplify compliance, streamline complex dispensary operations, and empower dispensaries to deliver the best possible shopping experience.
  • Simply Pure Trenton NJ is a Ewing-based social equity, adult-use cannabis dispensary owned by acclaimed cannabis advocate Tahir Johnson with a mission is to create a positive, people-centric global cannabis experience through education, inclusion and social justice. The Simply Pure brand was launched by Wanda James.
  • Valley Wellness, a full-service cannabis dispensary in Raritan, was founded in 2018 by Sarah Trent, who also developed sister company, NJ Cannabis Certified.
  • Queen City, an independent, woman-owned dispensary in Plainfield, serving central New Jersey towns, from Edison and Woodbridge to Scotch Plains/Fanwood, Westfield and beyond.
  • New Jersey Business Action Center, which was founded 40 years ago, has helped a range of businesses, from wineries, apparel manufacturers and medical device suppliers. With its new Cannabis Technical Assistance Program, it will now work on helping entrepreneurs in the space.
  • UFCW 360, the Cannabis Workers’ Union, for more than a decade, the union has been proud to help lead the development and stabilization of the emerging cannabis industry through our innovative Cannabis Workers Rising campaign.
  • Hance Construction, NJ Cannabis Insider Founding Sponsor, was selected to build one of the first cannabis grow facilities in New Jersey, and has since worked on other cannabis projects big and small, offering consulting and site-location services.
  • 5S Security, professionals ensure rigorous ongoing training, cutting-edge protocols, and tactical expertise to ensure the highest levels of protection and professionalism in the industry. AVS Technology specializes in designing, installing and supporting enterprise security systems worldwide.
  • TRC — NJ Clean Energy, a leading, global consulting, engineering and construction management firm that provides environmentally focused and digitally powered solutions.
  • CannaCoverage, a certified minority- and woman-owned company founded by Nichelle Santos, it works to protect assets, employees and customers with a comprehensive insurance program and risk management services.
  • Trichome Analytical, headquartered in Mount Laurel Township, offers the highest standard in accurate, compliant and comprehensive cannabis and industrial hemp testing and consulting services for cultivators, processors, retailers and regulatory agencies. Trichome Analytical is ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited, holds federal DEA registration for USDA-compliant hemp testing.
  • True Labs for Cannabis, a third-party analytical testing laboratory in East Hanover and a certified woman-owned business.
  • RIPT, a Jersey City cannabis dispensary located beneath the Pulaski Skyway, where urban inspiration meets exceptional cannabis solutions. RIPT is the only independent dispensary to carry Breakwater product for medical patients.

Strategic Partners

  • Our Community Harvest, founded by Rob Mejia, provides curious adults clear, researched information, stories from the cannabis community and products that offer confident, safe, and smart ways to experience cannabis. Mejia writes the Prof. Mejia’s Weed Corner for NJ Cannabis Insider.
  • Longview Strategic, founded by Ellie Siegel, provides advisory services and industry insights to public, private and not-for-profit entities throughout the country. With years of active experience, Longview has been able to provide top quality counsel, secure hallmark resources and connections, and contribute writing services for client projects and developments.
  • Cannademix, founded by Josh Alb, hosts free community education events on cannabis and how individuals can enter the industry. Cannademix is NJ Cannabis Insider’s After Party partner.
  • CMMNJ, is the all-volunteer not-for-profit Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, which established in 2003 by co-founder Ken Wolski.
  • Cannabis Insider Jobs, in collaboration with NJ Cannabis Insider, is dedicated to helping individuals find a career in the cannabis industry, leveraging its digital presence through’s parent company Advance Local.

Click here for more details and to purchase tickets. (Note: Availability is limited. As others will tell you, we have had to turn people away from our last several large-scale events.)

NJ Cannabis Insider is a weekly subscriber-based online trade journal and events group produced by NJ Advance Media, which also publishes, The Star-Ledger and other affiliated papers. Are you interested in the N.J. cannabis industry? Subscribe here for insider exclusives. Follow us on LinkedIn.

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