Screenshot of Budding in the Garden State, a free event for entrepreneurs in New Jersey.
What came as a victory for the cannabis industry this past February, legalization in New Jersey, was only the beginning of what this meant for residents. Cannabis legalization and the industry as a whole is still fairly new. As a result, that has raised some questions among emerging and pre-existing entrepreneurs looking to get into the industry.
Specifically; many residents have questions on licensing, social equity applicants, and funding. In response, Chirali Patel created Blaze Responsibly — a social media platform that provides education and advocacy for cannabis business owners.
On October 9th-10th, Patel will hold a one-of-a-kind virtual event Budding in the Garden State, a two-day exclusive series. The event, hosted via Zoom, is an educational, free-of-charge opportunity for anyone in the adult-use cannabis industry in New Jersey. Both meetings will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST and finish out on October 10th.
About the Host: Chirali Patel
Patel is an attorney by trade, currently working for Pashman Stein on cannabis law. Previously to this, Patel did class action litigation and worked at a firm that was handling the national opioid litigation.
Patel tells Emerald about her prior work in 2019, and what inspired her to launch the platform. “I was involved in putting together a vertical medical application for New Jersey. I did all of that stuff to help with banking and real estate,” she explains. “And so having gone through that process, and then having the legal experience, I realized that this isn’t set up for people who look like me to succeed.”
“So I thought that I had to create a platform that can share free information and tips in general because I felt that the better educated people are, the better [chance] entrepreneurs will have.”
Now, she specializes in cannabis law, and helping entrepreneurs and start-up businesses looking to enter the industry.
Budding in the Garden State Discussion Topics
The series, Budding in the Garden State, is presented in partnership with Berner’s Cookies Social Impact and the WebberWild Fund.
Some of the topics range from licensing, website navigation, and cannabis regulations. Patel will also discuss the issues surrounding minorities looking to enter the cannabis industry.
For example, according to a News 12 New Jersey report on the struggles of minority entrepreneurship, rent could be upwards of 20,000 in rent before even occupying a space.
“This is what entrepreneurs are facing. Part of the process for applying for marijuana sales licenses is getting authorization from the town and securing a physical location,” News 12 further reports.
Participants will receive a resource guide. The guide includes “credible sources that they can go to for help for real estate,” and more, Patel explains.
She will also guide fellow women and minority-owned entrepreneurs in New Jersey on how to take advantage of their social equity-owned business status, and obtain certification.
Patel also plans to cover in-depth what each license allows entrepreneurs to do, including: the micro business licenses, conditional licenses, and how to apply for a cannabis license. Additionally, she plans to walk through prior applications and how applicants can access potential funding, and gain community support.
The core, she said, is about “how to really navigate this industry in New Jersey specifically and put together a winning application hopefully.”
Giving Back to the Community
Patel tells Emerald some of her motivation behind this event: “being an attorney […], I see a lot of people who come to me who, you know, express either frustration with their lack of being able to put together a team trying to find funding in this space, and not even really understanding the background of the industry.”
Patel offers this highly informational class at a free rate, which contains information many attorneys would charge at high rates.
She said that it allows her to give back to the community. “My thinking was, if I can do this thing for free, and people at least are equipped with enough information to move forward, then they can decide; do I want to take my time and invest money into this or not.”
Throughout the event, Patel will offer opportunities to ask questions. This will allow participants to give comments and inquire on additional topics.
Blaze Responsibly continues to grow as a platform, Patel explains; “the goal and the dream is to have Blaze Responsibly be the tagline in the industry for cannabis.”