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The business of cannabis: Advice from the experts — If you want to join this business, here are some things you need to know

NJBIZ: What is the cost of entry?

John Pellitteri (Grassi & Co.): I think the initial point that needs to be made in terms of the investment is this: These are long-term investments that you’re getting into. This is not going to be a quick turnaround. Go into it, do your planning, make sure you have capital, and put projections and budgets together. And make sure you understand what goes into it, because if you go in unknowing, you’re going to be several million dollars in before you even know it and not even close to where you have to go.

These are real numbers. I caution you. Go in it, but look long term, because like any investment you’re going to make, this is not going to hit in the short term. This is a long-term play; be prepared for long-term disappointment.

There’s an endless opportunity out there, and, if you look at hard trends that are happening, and I’m a big trends guy, I believe you see what goes on and you’d be putting your head in the sand to not think this doesn’t have a tremendous amount of momentum both locally and nationally. I suggest you take a long, deep look to see if this is really going to be right for you, because I think for a lot of people, it’s going to be right.

NJBIZ: Describe how many different ways you can be connected to the industry?

George Schidlovsky (Compassionate Sciences): There are a lot of opportunities because there are going to be five different types of licenses: a grow license, a processing license, a retail license, a testing license and a logistics license.

Grow license enables you to grow the cannabis. You pack it up and sell it to a processing company, which will create the end products: flour, oil, edibles or any other products allowed by the new regulations. That person will then sell it to a retailer. And the retailer is the local shop down on Main Street or whatever town allows you to have that facility.

In between all that, you have a logistics company that’s going to move it from location to location, and they’ll be contracted. So, you’ll have a lot of opportunities, but you need to figure out where your strengths are. 

But it all really starts with the plant. If you have a good supplier with a good, medical-grade product, the rest will follow.

NJBIZ: What’s the first thing you need to do?

Bill Caruso (Archer & Greiner): You do need to be in this game. If you like what you’re hearing about this law, get in the game. Contact your assemblyperson, contact your senator.

There is a dialogue going on right now in Trenton. And you’re going to hear from mayors. There’s going to be an effort by some mayors who are going to be more entrepreneurial and are going to want this type of business in their town. There are going to be others who aren’t. So, it’s important to talk to your local officials and let them know that you are a business owner or a potential business owner and you want to see this coming.

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