Each instructor is an expert in the subject area that they teach. Many have advanced degrees, teach at other reputable colleges, and/or provide education in the cannabis industry in the form of speaking engagements across the United States. We would not be able to provide you with this material if it were not for our great teachers. Thank you to all!
Sarah Trent, Esq.
Founder, NJ Cannabis Certified
Sarah practiced law as a public defender working at the Legal Aid Society, representing individuals charged with both low level and serious crimes before founding Valley Wellness – a company that applied for a medical dispensary permit in the August, 2019 Request for Applications from the New Jersey Department of Health. Sarah spearheaded all aspects of the application process, including: raising capital, hiring team members, securing town approvals, and writing the permit application. Through a partnership with Raritan Valley Community College, Sarah created NJ Cannabis Certified in March, 2020 and the class expanded to Mercer County Community College in January, 2021. Sarah is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Cannabis Law, Executive Committee, is a NORML Legal Committee Member, and a member of the International Cannabis Bar Association. Sarah was previously a United Auto Workers local 2325 member and office Vice President while at the Legal Aid Society. She graduated from the University of Miami, Florida obtaining both her B.A. and J.D. there. Sarah was a public interest scholarship recipient and founded a youth mentoring program in Miami during law school. She grew up in West Windsor, New Jersey and currently lives in Morris County.
Seth R. Tipton, Esq.
Partner, Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor LLC
Seth R. Tipton, Esq.
Seth is a partner at the law firm of Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor LLC. Seth’s expertise is in corporate law, real estate transactions, corporate governance, including formation and mergers and acquisitions, as well as health care law. In regards to cannabis, he has experience representing operators and applicants for permits across the United States, specifically in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio. Seth has successfully represented clients that have appealed adverse permit rulings, as well as representing ancillary cannabis businesses. He is the Co-Chair of the Cannabis Law Executive Committee of the State Bar Association and has presented on numerous topics related to cannabis law in the State of New Jersey including emerging issues in insurance coverage and employment law issues. Prior to joining the firm, he clerked in the New Jersey Appellate Division. Seth is a graduate of Rutgers University and received his J.D. at Rutgers Newark where he served on the Moot Court and Law Review.
Tim Weigand, PMP
Director, The Botanist, NJ
Tim Weigand, PMP
Tim Weigand has nearly a decade of hands-on experience and a track record of success in managing two cannabis Alternative Treatment Centers in New Jersey. Beginning his medical cannabis career in 2011 with Greenleaf Compassion Center, Montclair, Tim helped them become New Jersey’s first dispensary to open. In October 2015 Tim returned to his South Jersey roots taking a position with Compassionate Care Foundation, located in Egg Harbor Township. In June 2020, Compassionate Care Foundation was acquired by Acreage Holdings, a multi-state operating, publicly traded cannabis conglomerate. Tim was offered his current position of Senior Director of NJ Operations, and now oversees all of Acreage NJ’s cultivation, processing, manufacturing activities and two dispensary locations.
Tim has worked in all facets of cannabis operations, from his start in patient reception and counseling with Greenleaf, then managing day-to-day operations of CCF; through his current oversight and strategic development of Acreage NJ. This range of positions, progressively gained, gives Tim a view of the entire spectrum of issues and tasks from having done them, not simply talking or reading about them. His cannabis insight has increased overall yields, with tremendous improvements to overall product quality, along with setting standards for quality assurance measures and improving process efficiency. He has planned and executed major facility renovations and expansions; including construction of new cultivation rooms, upgrades to security systems, increasing of power and utilities, dispensary renovations, extraction laboratories and manufactured product development.
Because Tim has been involved in the NJ cannabis industry from its inception, he has seen first-hand what the industry was and what it has evolved to today, which gives him unique vision and insight of what it will be in both the near and longer term. Tim grew up in Manchester, New Jersey, and lives in Egg Harbor Township with his wife and daughters. His aim is to continue his growth, to set and exceed new goals, and to leave a meaningful and lasting impact on the community.
Dr. Thomas Gianfagna
Department of Plant Biology Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Dr. Thomas Gianfagna
Thomas is a professor in the plant biology department at Rutgers University, and prior to that, an Associate and Assistant Professor, since 1980. His interests are plant-endophyte interactions in cacao, coffee and grasses, medicinal chemistry of Lilium longiflorum, postharvest disease control in cut-flowers and fruit. Thomas teaches Horticulture 101 at Rutgers and has been a member of the advisory board for the Ornamental Horticulture Curriculum at Mercer County Community College since 1995. Thomas has published in multiple peer reviewed journals and is a frequent presenter. He is also a member of the Rutgers Hemp Extension Program.
Marketing, The Botanist NJ
Spencer Belz entered the cannabis industry in May 2018 as a Wellness Counselor for Compassionate Care Foundation. Assisting patients on their medicinal cannabis journey, Spencer facilitated over 2,000 one-on-one consultations offering guidance on the application and administration of cannabis. In June 2020, as CCF transitioned into The Botanist, Spencer stepped into the position of Marketing Coordinator, focusing on educating and spreading awareness of medicinal cannabis to patients and physicians throughout the State of New Jersey. Spencer looks forward to the future of the medicinal cannabis industry and the great potential cannabis has for everyone.
Grower, Garden State Dispensary
Alexandra (Ally) Verello is a Graduate of Rutgers University with a BS in Plant Science and a minor in Medicinal and Economic Botany. She has been a grower at Garden State Dispensary since 2018 and maintains a philosophy of connecting mentally with the cannabis crop to maximize quality and create an inspiring work-space.
Cultivation Manager, TerrAscend NJ
Nick is the Cultivation Manager at TerrAscend, New Jersey. TerrAscend is a multi-state cannabis operator and is now the first operator in New Jersey to produce cannabis in a greenhouse. Nick started his career at the first licensed grow in New Jersey and was then TerrAscend’s first hire. Nick planned their cultivation operations from the ground up. His passion is genetics and he has been featured in High Times Magazine.
With eleven years experience in the cannabis industry, Brian is a highly sought after thought leader, speaker, executive, and consultant to plant-touching and ancillary companies throughout the US, Canada and internationally.
Brian transitioned to regulated cannabis in 2014 while leading cannabis conglomerate Palliatech (now Curaleaf, OTC: CURLF) through the build out and licensing phases of their vertically-integrated flagship facility in NJ. He began consulting independently in 2016 and as projects grew, he expanded the firm and founded BSC Group with his partner Amber in 2017. BSC Group focused on winning cannabis licenses and managing cannabis operations and was sold in October 2018 to publicly-traded MariMed Inc (OTC:MRMD). Since moving on from MariMed and BSC, Brian worked as the COO to turn around a scaled Las Vegas based operation to achieve profitability in less than a year. He has consulted internationally and in 26 uniquely regulated states across the US.
Brian lives and breathes operations, and is known for his ability to execute on a conceptual vision and follow through persistently to guarantee progress. With a focus on scalable, easy-to-teach systems, Brian’s operations adhere to meticulous standards and exceed regulatory mandates. Brian thrives managing complex cultivation and manufacturing operations simultaneously across multiple unique regulatory environments. He possesses a humility and appetite for knowledge that makes him an approachable, dynamic professional and charismatic leader.
Brian’s approach is guided by his belief in lean manufacturing principles. You’ll see these present in the way he designs facilities, develops policies and processes, solves for challenges, facilitates improvements, and establishes a culture that invests in employees. He believes in a constant improvement mindset to achieve long-term growth. Brian firmly believes that the companies who will succeed in cannabis are those who focus on improving their own operations and brands by maximizing efficiency and eliminating waste to improve quality and consistency instead of focusing on things beyond their control. The companies who will prevail are those who believe that the humans within their organizations are the most valuable assets and that many of the most innovative ideas come from the employees. Brian believes in the concept of the infinite game as popularized by Simon Sinek and enjoys the challenges of building an operation with endurance.
In addition to designing and redesigning ops, Brian is most frequently called in to turnaround struggling and inefficient operations, whether to prepare the operation for sale/takeover or to achieve profitability. You’ll also see Brian speaking at symposiums, conferences, universities and investor meetings throughout the country and abroad about industry trends, change indicators in cannabis, leadership, hiring and all facets of operations.
A New Jersey resident and an “East Coaster” for 34 years, Brian and his partner and wife Amber made the move westward in 2019 and currently reside in Sandy, Oregon. If you’d like to get in touch with Brian, please visit http://www.brianstaffa.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jahan Marcu, PhD
Endocannabinoid Researcher and Founding Partner at Marcu & Arora
Dr. Jahan Marcu PhD
Dr. Monica Taing, PharmD, RPh graduated from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy Studies where she completed Endocannabinoid Receptor System research. Since becoming the first Patient Experience Manager at a licensed alternative treatment center in New Jersey, today Dr. Taing is a clinical cannabis consultant for licensed dispensaries, hospital systems, and academic medical institutions in multiple states. Dr. Taing gained years of clinical cannabis experience and patient care priorities while serving as the first Medical Science Liaison for 4Front Ventures, the National Director of Research & Clinical Education for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), a clinical consultant specialist for Columbia University’s Northeast/Caribbean AIDS Education Training Center (NEC-AETC), and sits on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Endocannabinoid Medicine (AJEM). Dr. Taing is passionate about clinical research, patient counseling, public health education, multidisciplinary clinical outreach, and harm reduction advocacy for under-served patient populations.
Dr. Ariane Vasilatis, PhD
Lead Researcher and Coordinator at New Jersey Hemp Analytics Lab
Dr. Alan AO RPh
Founder, Plants and Prescriptions
Dr. Alan Ao RPh
Dr. Alan Ao is a registered pharmacist and life-long New Jersey native graduating from Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. With nineteen years of retail experience, he has spent the majority of his professional career working with patients in niche pharmaceutical markets. As a community-based independent pharmacist, he specialized in patient care counseling, medication therapy management, prescription drug compounding, and various forms of alternative medicine.
In 2018, Dr. Ao was afforded an opportunity to serve as Vice President and Clinical Pharmacist of one of New Jersey’s vertically-integrated medical cannabis alternative treatment centers. During his tenure there, he translated core pharmacy values of patient care, best retail practices, and workflow operations into a similarly regulated environment. He was able to build a comprehensive cannabis counseling program for patients, develop contemporary educational materials for staff, and obtain Institutional Review Board approval for a clinical study following medical cannabis patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Along with maintaining all retail and compliance functions of the company’s flagship store, one of his biggest personal accomplishments was to oversee the complete build out and launch of two additional satellite dispensaries.
Dr. Ao is currently the founder and president of Plants and Prescriptions, a consulting firm dedicated to bridging gaps of cannabis knowledge for medical patients, clinicians, and dispensaries within emerging cannabis markets. The company aims to provide a continuation of medical care founded on the principles of higher education, responsible adult consumption, and professional accountability within the industry. Dr. Ao serves as an active board member of the International Society of Cannabis Pharmacists and is the clinical course director for the Society of Cannabis Clinicians’ pharmacist education curriculum.