This summer, Hudson County Community College partnered with cannabis education platform Cannademix to host an aptly named conference, The Cannabis Culture of New Jersey. Cannademix founder Josh Alb had a chance to talk about his journey into the industry, the future of cannabis education, and the reality of New Jersey weed culture.
What is Cannademix?
The Cannademix team hosts free community education events about cannabis and teaches locals how to enter the industry. Cannademix presents top industry leaders from all areas to educate the community on how to approach entering the billion-dollar industry realistically.
Canndemix works with people from all walks of life, including students, faculty interested, legacy workers, and legal applicants. The platform works with local governments and colleges to tailor cannabis education events and programs to the local community and their needs.
Their philanthropy efforts prove they do more than pay lip service to building an equitable market in cannabis. The proceeds from their educational events are donated to the host college to fund curriculum and research related to cannabis. In October 2021, Cannademix became the largest donor to the Middlesex County College Natural Sciences Department by providing $2,500 towards Cannabis Biochemical Research. They funded students working on projects related to the endocannabinoid system.
They also donate to local community organizations that provide resources for the communities heavily impacted by the drug prohibition laws. In December of 2021, Cannademix hosted its first Legacy to Legal event. The funds from that event enabled them to donate $1,000 to five mutual-aid and nonprofits that support the community of Newark. At this event, Cannademix helped expunge records that contained non-violent cannabis-related offenses.
Joshua Alb: Cannademix Founder and New Jersey's Local Cannabis Expert
Joshua Alb is a New Jersey-born cannabis pro working hard to elevate the cannabis culture in his home state. Despite being one of the youngest cannabis professionals in the state, Alb has nearly a decade of experience as a scientist, activist, and entrepreneur. A biochemist by trade, he entered the industry straight out of high school.
After an injury prevented him from being a college athlete, Alb dropped out and moved to San Francisco with the intent of getting into the cannabis industry. He began his academic pursuits at Oaksterdam University (the world’s first cannabis college), specializing in cannabinoid drug discovery, and conducted award-winning research on the endocannabinoid system. At 19 years old, he was the youngest to finish the program with its highest honors. He was recruited as the chief horticulturist and a senior consultant for the hemp-based brand Alta California Botanicals.
When Alb returned to the East Coast, he returned to academia, working with his alma mater Middlesex County College as a student to create cannabis biochemical research programs. He conducted their first endocannabinoid research protocols in conjunction with the Protein Data Bank at Rutgers University, earning several awards.
He is also the CEO and founder of Why Not THC, a science-based platform for Cannabis science, education, and activism. He also has a company, ALB Labs, that provides cannabinoid products while educating the public about cannabinoid-based medication.
Seeing a deficit in access to educational opportunities for cannabis in his home state, Alb used his experience as a researcher and cannabis science curriculum developer to build an accessible educational platform for his community. Thus, Cannademix was born.
Josh Alb Talks About Cannademix, Cannabis Education and The Future of New Jersey Weed Culture
HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: What is the mission behind your work with Cannademix?
JOSHUA ALB: I created Cannademix because I saw the need for continuing education within the cannabis space. I wanted to make it in the image of what the government should be doing. In doing that, I created a beautiful platform, in which now we work with the government and different colleges to achieve that goal. We work with pretty much all pillars of the industry in creating a centralized platform for cannabis education. Our admission is always free. We offer educational panels, expungement clinics, job opportunities, and networking. At our last event, The Cannabis Culture of New Jersey, back in June at Hudson, we made edibles on campus, which was cool. It was the first time that anyone was able to kind of do something like that.
There are a lot of philanthropy efforts that we do as well. We've partnered with my alma mater, Middlesex County College, becoming the largest donor to the Natural Sciences department. We're funding a cannabis biochemical research program under accredited research programs in biology and chemistry.
In addition to that, we have philanthropy projects in Newark. We give money to nonprofits and mutual aid groups supporting Black and brown businesses in the region. There are also scholarship opportunities that we have. We've been able to give away several scholarships to qualified social equity applicants. Community reparations as a whole are something that we specialize in.
On the back end of things, we help schools create cannabis education. We do a lot of outreach and workforce development programs with several universities. Our partners include Stockton University, Rowan University, Rutgers, Middlesex County College, and Hudson County Community College.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
What I'm most proud of is that we've become recognized by the institution as the leading group for community education in the state of New Jersey. Everything comes down to education at the end of the day, you know? And that's what we've been doing successfully here in the Garden State.
In New York, our most impactful event was with Webster Hall. We did Webster Hall's first cannabis event in its 136-year history [celebrating 420 this past April with an event called Unity Day, supported by State Senator James Sanders Jr. and High Times]. We had Wu-Tang Clan [members Inspectah Deck and Cappadonna] headlining. We had dembow, and reggaeton artists perform as well. We were able to unite the legacy market and have MSOs and ancillary operations come on board. We had over 50 organizations take part in our event. Our concert tees have "Long Live Legacy" on the front, and on the back of them were all the performing artists and partner organizations, including the New York government.
It was really cool that we could get the NY Senate to throw its logo on everything and have full government support for everything that we do. That was a real testament to the work we've done in terms of community outreach advocacy in pushing the narrative further.
What are some of the pros and cons of cannabis culture in New Jersey?
The pros and cons of the current state of the cannabis culture in New Jersey boil down to the same: there isn't one. The con of the current industry in New Jersey is that there is no authentic cannabis culture. At the same time, it is also a pro because it allows us to create the culture deemed necessary for the state to move forward appropriately. Here in New Jersey, we are responsible for dictating our culture of how this industry is perceived and operated. We don't have to have the West Coast influence in terms of, you know, what they did and their mistakes. We have a brand new opportunity to showcase what New Jersey is about. Remember that we are nicknamed the Garden State for a reason. The whole bottom third of the state is all farms.
On the flip side, the problem of not having the culture means that things are open to predatory practices. People are left up to being susceptible to scammers and charlatans who pose as something they're not. It's happened a lot in this space because it's so new, and not too many people know what's legit and what's not.
At the same time, this is an opportunity to give rise to a brand new cannabis culture that the people of New Jersey agree upon. Some of the most influential voices in the industry come from this state. For example, Redman comes from Newark. A lot of other major celebrities are from New Jersey.
The way that I see New Jersey culture being able to proliferate genuinely is something that can be ours. I think we can create a thriving culture within the legal sector because they greatly crack down on the underground. There is no true underground cannabis culture. They've got little pop-ups here and there, but they don't last long. We don't have local icons known for selling weed while openly advocating for their communities.
We have people like attorney Jessica Gonzales who continue to help change and positively push the narrative. We have Tiyahnn Bryant and Precious Osagie-Erese of Roll Up Life, Inc. helping people in East Orange and in the greater Essex County. Many cannabis industry leaders in this region are based out of New Jersey. Many more people are coming to this state because they see the opportunity here and because we have the lowest taxes in the country.
The Garden State is prime and ripe for opportunity. But at the same time, we need to make sure that the options stay New Jersey-based and focused and that we create a culture for our people.
What’s your advice for prospective cannabis entrepreneurs and medical professionals?
Get educated, and have patience. You need to take the time to understand the endeavor that you're about to go through before actually enduring it. Trailblazers like myself and others have gone through hell to ensure you don't have to. We're going to lay out a path for you to follow because we went through and had to create our path through this jungle. In doing so, we got a lot of battle scars along the way because there's some crazy bush out here. Simply put, make sure you get educated and remain patient.
Take the time to learn about what you're going to do. Take the time to collect the necessary assets. Don't feel like you have to rush into this. Take your time to analyze the market and your position in it, then evaluate your resources accordingly. To do that, you've got to educate yourself. Educate yourself about the reality of it. Ask yourself, is this business meant for you?
There are advocates, operators, and few people in between. If you're able to be an advocate, then be an advocate. If you can transition into the operator role successfully, then do so, but understand what it will come with. Understand the hoops you must jump through.
Don't get into this thinking that it's quick cash. It's no. It takes time, effort, and a lot of creative thinking to become successful in the space.
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Featured image: Cannademix founder Josh Alb hosts National Cannabis Party founders Redman and Sephida Artis-Mills, and industry leaders including Dasheeda Dawson, Solonje Burnett, Tahir Johnson, Jessica Gonzalez, Christine De La Rosa, Vladimir Bautista and more. (C) Cannademix