Full List of Winners of the NJ Cannabis Industry’s First-Ever Awards

In what has already been a historic year for New Jersey legal weed after the doors opened to consumers on April 21, business insiders celebrated the industry’s achievements at the first-ever gala. Garden State Cannabis Awards Thursday night.

NJ Cannabis Insider, a trade journal and events group that is part of the NJ Advance Media newsroom, hosted the premium event for some of the state’s most prominent business and political leaders in a transformed Carteret Performing Arts Center.

Enrique Lavine, publisher and editor of NJ Cannabis Insider, hosted the awards banquet, which featured a live band under a stylized canopy of stage lights and fog. Some 200 insiders, including guests from as far away as Colorado and Texas, showed off their style and fashion unlike the business or casual attire typical of most industry events across the country.

Winners in 12 categories, including four Publisher’s Choice awards, received a statuette called The Canny to recognize their achievements in the field of cannabis. They were:

  • CannaCoveragean insurance company owned by Nichelle Santosfor Minority Business of the Year.
  • Certified NJ Cannabis, Sarah Trentfor Women-Owned Business of the Year.
  • Sapphire Risk Advisory Group and CEO Tony Gallofor excellence in consulting and professional services.
  • covaa point-of-sale software company and CEO Gary Cohenfor Excellence in Innovation.
  • Hiller, CPand firm partner Lauren Rudickfor excellence in cannabis law.
  • Analytical Trichomea cannabis testing lab and CEO Kristen Goddefor Excellence in Health and Life Sciences.
  • 420NJEventsa minority advocacy group led by Brendon Robinson and Stan Okorofor excellence in social equity.
  • And Hance Building and CEO Art Hance, for excellence in the operation of commercial buildings. Hance Construction was also named a founding sponsor for supporting NJ Cannabis Insider since its inception in 2018.

(For the full list of nominees, go here.)

Earlier in the evening, the presenters Amol Sinha of the American Civil Liberty Union-New Jersey, Dr. David Nat from Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Trent of NJ Cannabis Certified, and Faye Coleman from Pure Genesis presented the inaugural Publisher’s Choice award winners in four categories:

  • Lifetime Achievement went to Bill Caruso, attorney and lobbyist at Archer & Greiner, PC and Archer Public Affairs.
  • The Ambassador of the Year was awarded to Edmund DeVeaux, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association and lobbyist at Burton Trent.
  • Community Game Changer of the Year was awarded to Jessica F. Gonzalez, an attorney at Hiller PC and general counsel at Minorities for Medical Marijuana.
  • Excellence in education went to Rob Mejia, author, entrepreneur and assistant professor at the University of Stockton.

Sponsors supporting the event included: Genoa is burning, cova, To go up, Cannabist, Treez and the Minority Cannabis Academywho sponsored the evening’s afterparty.

In April, the cannabis industry voted who should be recognized as the best in class. Six finalists were narrowed down to three, with the ultimate winner being announced at the NJ Cannabis Insider 2022 Awards gala.

Expect more coverage in the coming days.

NJ Cannabis Insider is a weekly subscription-based online business magazine and event group produced by NJ Advance Media, which also publishes NJ.com, The Star-Ledger and other affiliated newspapers. Are you interested in the NJ cannabis industry? Subscribe here for insider exclusives. follow us on LinkedIn. contact us here.

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