Cannabis symposium in Newark draws huge interest

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A cannabis symposium for potential pot business owners was held in New Jersey on Thursday drew quite the crowd.

800 people packed the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday ordered his administration to review New Jersey's medical marijuana program, which he says has been "stifled" over the past eight years.

"You're going to have to consult with an attorney if you're going to get involved," said attorney George Caceres.

"There's just so many opportunities right now, you have to kind of learn it all," added real estate investor Cesar Rosato.

None of the people were lined up for licences to sell pot - almost everyone who attended were first-timers in the cannabis space. They poured into the symposium on the same day Governor Phil Murphy toured a medical marijuana dispensary in Cranbury; and two days after he asked the state to focus on expanding the medical marijuana program.

"Nothing I saw today, nothing I've seen since we were last together and I signed the executive order changes my opinion," said Gov. Murphy.

Symposium co-organizer Brian Staffa says his phone has been ringing off the hook.

"It started back in July when people started getting word that Governor Phil Murphy was winning the polls," he said.

Having campaigned on a pledge to fully legalize marijuana, advocates for legalization are taking notice.

Co-organizer Joshua Bauchner told Eyewitness News, "Cannabis now is a business and the people that are here are business people. It's the green rush. People are seeing what's happening out west, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon and they want a piece of it."

And they're betting that piece of it will be large enough to go around.

"Whatever background you have, whatever skills you have, they're applicable to something in this industry and that's why you see those folks coming out of the woodwork," said co-organizer Ellie Siegel.

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