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Wednesday, July 31, 2019 Live / Webcast

Cannabis Conference (E1907140)

8:00 AM - 4:30 PM EDT

Registration: 7:30 AM EDT

MetroTop Plaza II

111 Wood Avenue South, 10th Floor
Iselin , NJ 08830

8.0 CPE Credits in SK


Gain insight into this growing billion-dollar industry, build connections across sectors, and learn from experts in the field. Join us for discussions on advanced accounting issues and how emerging technologies like blockchain can help us navigate through conflicting federal and state laws.


CPAs and professionals who are interested in the impacts of what a legal cannabis industry will have on New Jersey businesses


7:45-8 a.m.
Opening Remarks

8-9:15 a.m.
Keynote: A Green Garden State? The Status of Cannabis in New Jersey
William J. Caruso, J.D. — Archer & Greiner PC
States across the country are moving rapidly to legalize cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. New Jersey politicians seem to be pushing towards legislation, but what is holding them back? Attend an update catered specifically to New Jersey, and learn what factors are holding back local officials from moving forward on the path towards legalization.

9:15-9:35 a.m.
Morning Break

9:35-10:50 a.m.
Advanced Accounting Issues
Benjamin Aspir, CPA — EisnerAmper LLP
Mitzi S. Hollenbeck, CPA, CFE — Citrin Cooperman & Company LLP
Nicholas R. Odille, CPA, MBA — HBK CPAs & Consultants
Moderated by Stacey D. Udell, CPA/ABV/CFF, CVA — HBK CPAs & Consultants
The accounting industry faces a particularly unique challenge when it comes to clients who are involved in the cannabis industry. Audit concerns, local tax issues, and recommendations for cannabis industry clients will be addressed in a manner that will help CPAs navigate the ambiguous topic of cannabis in the accounting industry.

10:55-11:45 a.m.
Banking, Insurance and Finance Issues
Anthony Bartell, J.D. — McCarter & English Attorneys at Law
Joshua S. Bauchner, J.D. — Answell Grimm & Aaron PC
Kevin J. Hart — Green Check Verified
Moderated by Melissa A. Dardani, CPA — EisnerAmper LLP
Spending on cannabis is projected to reach $50 billion by 2027. The cannabis industry will require operational necessities like banking, insurance, and legal advice. Hear from individuals currently addressing these issues, and more.

11:50 a.m.-12:40 p.m.

12:45-2 p.m.
Keynote: Entity Planning for the Cannabis Industry
Nick J. Richards, Esq. — Dill Dill Carr Stonbraker & Hutchings PC
Navigating a general IRS Business Tax Audit is a feat. Now, imagine what cannabis clients must do to pass an audit! Learn the complexities of this budding industry, such as:
  • Entity planning after alternative health care — the stakes just went up
  • Surviving the IRS tax debt in the cannabis industry
  • The Harborside decision — is the 280E burden growing?
2:05-3:20 p.m.
Social Justice Panel
Lisa Gora, J.D. — Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer
Joshua S. Bauchner, J.D. — Answell Grimm & Aaron PC
Rani Soto — The New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association
Moderated by Dara A. Servis — New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association

As the path towards legalized adult use cannabis nears, society must consider and address the issues of those affected by previous legal climates. Speakers will address topics such as expungement, contradictory employment law, and more.

3:20-3:40 p.m.
Afternoon Break

3:40-4:30 p.m.
Technology: How Blockchain can be Utilized in the Cannabis Industry
Karolis Matulis, CPA, CVA — WilkinGuttenplan
Scott Benson — DigitalX
Steven Schain, Esq. — Hoban Law Group
Moderated by Dr. Sean D. Stein Smith, CPA, CFE, CGMA, CMA — Lehman College
The cannabis industry and blockchain are considered to be giant disruptors in the current business climate. Can they benefit each other? Join us for speculation on:
  • How blockchain reduce cash reliance and paper forms for inventory and banking
  • Can blockchain assist with tax collection and regulation of the cannabis industry?
  • How blockchain can assist with quality control issues in the cannabis industry
  • What types of blockchains may be the best fit for an organization in the cannabis industry
  • How does cryptocurrency factor into the cannabis market and industry?








Benjamin Aspir

Benjamin Aspir, CPA


EisnerAmper LLP

Benjamin Aspir is a Senior Tax Manager with over 10 years of public accounting experience. His client base includes closely held businesses spanning various industries, including professional services, real estate, and manufacturing and distribution. He also serves high net worth individuals. Benjamin’s expertise focuses on tax, but his past experience providing audit and accounting services allows him to deliver a unique perspective to clients. Benjamin has been a speaker on various tax topics. Additionally, he frequently writes tax articles and updates for both external and internal audiences.

Anthony Bartell

Anthony Bartell, J.D.


McCarter & English Attorneys at Law

Anthony Bartell focuses on complex insurance matters. For more than 30 years, Anthony has helped policyholders – generally major corporations – purchase insurance policies tailored to their specific business and legal needs. Anthony also has helped policyholders secure hundreds of millions of insurance dollars. In the process, Anthony has made law in a number of cases, including Owens-Illinois, Inc. v. United Insurance Co., 138 N.J. 437, 650 A.2d 974 (1994), which established New Jersey’s trigger of coverage and allocation principles, and United States Mineral Prods. Co. v. American Ins. Co., 792 A.2d 500 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2002), which held “stub policies” provide policyholders with full additional occurrence and aggregate liability limits.

Anthony handles issues arising from every type of first-party and third-party insurance, including general liability insurance, directors & officers insurance, employment practices liability insurance, errors & omissions insurance, workers compensation/retrospective premium insurance, cyber insurance, property insurance and business interruption insurance. Anthony also works with insurance producers, large and small, on issues relating to the purchase of insurance policies and the defense of malpractice claims. Anthony recognizes that litigation represents the last, and often least attractive, option for policyholders seeking the coverage for which they paid substantial premiums. He, therefore, regularly counsels policyholders purchasing coverage and reviews prospective insurance policies to determine whether they meet the policyholder’s needs.

When a coverage dispute arises, Anthony uses his longstanding relationships with insurer counsel to resolve the parties’ differences to the policyholder’s satisfaction. If the parties cannot resolve their disputes amicably, then Anthony vigorously litigates or arbitrates the policyholder’s claims to an equitable conclusion. He appears regularly before arbitration panels and state and federal courts throughout New Jersey and other states. Anthony also argues insurance appeals before appellate courts nationwide, including the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the New Jersey Supreme Court, and appears before the Insurance Departments of New Jersey and other states.

Anthony prides himself on keeping abreast of insurance matters important to new and emerging industries, including those relating to cryptocurrency/blockchain and cannabis. As a member of the firm’s Cannabis Industry Group, Anthony contributes to a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing and resolving legal issues relevant to the cannabis/hemp industry.

Joshua Bauchner

Joshua S. Bauchner


Ansell Grimm & Aaron PC

Joshua S. Bauchner is a shareholder with the law firm Ansell Grimm & Aaron, PC where he is Co-Chair of the Litigation Department, head of the Cannabis Law Practice Group, and a member of the Community Association and Bankruptcy practice groups. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association Cannabis Law Committee, and a frequent speaker on the topic of cannabis.

Scott Benson

Scott Benson


DX Americas

Scott oversees all compliance and operations functions for DigitalX. Scott is a highly seasoned operations professional and regulatory compliance specialist, across multiple disciplines including Anti Money Laundering, Privacy, Business Continuity, Sanctions and Anti Bribery and Corruption with extensive experience in building, managing, and maintaining compliance programs for regulated financial services companies. As a 25 year veteran of the financial services industry Scott has served in senior compliance and operations roles at various internationally recognized financial firms including Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, RBC Wealth Management and MetLife having also served as a regulator with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

William Caruso

William J Caruso, J.D.

Of Cousel

Archer & Greiner, P.C.

William Caruso, Managing Director at Archer Public Affairs and Partner with Archer & Greiner, P.C., has been active in New Jersey’s governmental and legislative affairs for nearly two decades.

Mr. Caruso also leads Archer’s Cannabis Law practice group. He is a recognized expert in state and federal Cannabis law, and has been an active advocate in the movement to end marijuana prohibition for nearly ten years.

Mr. Caruso is a founding member of the New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform steering committee, a partnership of public safety, medical, civil rights, faith, political, and criminal justice reform organizations and individuals committed to changing New Jersey’s laws to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. He is also a board member of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association, a nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing the legalization of cannabis. As a government staffer and now as a lawyer and advocate, Mr. Caruso has been a leader in cannabis policy at the state and federal level for the last two decades.

Mr. Caruso is highly experienced in related areas of law that directly impact cannabis law, including business planning and transactions, employment law, land use, zoning and municipal law, and healthcare law and regulation, and is dedicated to helping clients comply with evolving cannabis laws ethically and responsibly.

Mr. Caruso also leads Archer Public Affairs, an Archer affiliate that provides full-service government and regulatory affairs advice and advocacy to businesses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Mr. Caruso is among a select group of attorneys, policy makers and civic leaders selected for New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s Transition2018 advisory team. He serves on the team’s Law and Justice committee, one of 14 committees analyzing and making recommendations on various issues facing New Jersey.

Prior to joining Archer, Mr. Caruso served for nearly five years as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office in Trenton, where he was responsible for developing and implementing the Assembly’s policy agenda. As top aide to Speaker Sheila Oliver, Mr. Caruso served as lead staff negotiator on all policy matters, as liaison to the Governor’s office, Senate and state departments. He was responsible for daily management of approximately 30 policy research professionals and communications and administrative staff. During his tenure, Mr. Caruso helped shepherd through numerous pieces of landmark legislation, including pension and health benefits reform.

Prior to his Assembly post, Mr. Caruso served for more than 11 years as Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, overseeing all aspects of the Congressman’s policy and public relations agenda, with specialization in economic development, education and defense policy. He was responsible for daily management of approximately 20 policy research professionals and communications and administrative staff in offices in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Mr. Caruso also served 11 years as Congressman Andrews’ Campaign Manager.

In addition, Mr. Caruso served as Democratic legal and public relations advisor to the 2011 New Jersey Apportionment Commission, which was tasked with redrawing the lines of the state’s 40 legislative districts following the 2010 census. He is one of New Jersey’s most influential political and policy players, and is a prolific and sought-after speaker on both cannabis law and governmental affairs. Mr. Caruso appears regularly on television news programs as a political commentator.

Mr. Caruso earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Government from Bucknell University, and his Juris Doctorate from Rutgers University School of Law–Camden. He lives in Berlin Borough, Camden County, with his wife, Amanda, and their three sons.

Melissa Dardani

Melissa A. Dardani, CPA, MAcc, CFE


MD Advisory

Melissa is the founder and managing member of MD Advisory, a boutique forensic firm. She has an extensive background in forensic accounting, data analytics, and cash flow analyses, as well as in diagnosing and remediating business problems. Melissa is a member of several NJCPA interest groups, including the Cannabis Interest Group, the Student Loan Debt Task Force and the Emerging Leaders Council.

Lisa Gora

Lisa Gora, Esq.


Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

Lisa Gora is a partner with the law firm of Epstein Becker & Green. On the forefront of the burgeoning cannabis industry and with many years of industry experience, Lisa helps clients in the cannabis space navigate the industry’s complicated and ever-changing regulatory landscape. Her cannabis law practice includes the representation of alternative treatment centers within the medicinal cannabis industry as well as start-ups and multistate operators in the personal adult-use cannabis industry, such as cultivators, manufacturers, retailers, delivery services, distributors, and testing laboratories. Lisa advises clients in connection with licensing, ownership, and regulatory compliance pursuant to state laws, rules, and regulations. Lisa also advises clients on regulatory considerations associated with anticipated mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, she provides advice to physicians, hospitals, and others doing business in the legal cannabis market in New Jersey concerning issues related to recommending, authorizing, administering, and possessing medical cannabis.

Kevin Hart

Kevin J. Hart

Founder & CEO

Green Check Verified

Hart is an enterprise software veteran with almost 4 decades of experience. Having worked with global CPG brands in the full supply chain suite of applications including high-volume retail order management/POS and payment platforms, Hart has a keen eye for the business needs and how technology can be properly applied to solve the real and extended business requirements of retail operations, not shoe-horning the business to fit the software. This approach has been fully applied to the challenges of how to structure and maintain real banking relationships between cannabis businesses and the financial institutions that wish to serve them.

Mitzi Hollenbeck

Mitzi S. Hollenbeck, CPA, CFE


Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP

Mitzi Hollenbeck is a partner in the firm’s Braintree, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island offices with over 15 years of experience providing accounting and audit services, tax planning, business consulting, and forensic services. Mitzi has a unique perspective on the cannabis business, being an elected official in the town of Lakeville, MA, where she is able to understand the local regulatory challenges facing this industry. Having established a network of cannabis advisors, Mitzi is able to translate her knowledge to the needs of this unique industry as the industry evolves and is able to give you industry experience from working with actual growers, distributors, and applicants who have already navigated these waters. She has experience with working with cultivators, dispensaries, cannabis transportation companies, and cannabis-related businesses in both the United States and Canada.

Karolis Matulis

Karolis Matulis, CPA, CITP, CVA



Karolis is a Manager at WilkinGuttenplan, focusing on real estate taxation and planning, transactional planning, business valuations, litigation support and technology implementation. His range of focus areas allows him to contribute unique professional expertise to a variety of problems. Karolis is the chair of the firm’s Innovation Council and has overseen multiple automation projects.

Nicholas Odille

Nicholas R. Odille, CPA, MBA


HBK CPAs & Consultants

Nick has extensive experience working with closely held companies and their owners. He provides consulting, tax and assurance services to a wide range of clients, particularly those in the cannabis, transportation, construction and manufacturing industries. Nick is relentless in advocating for his clients and helping them to make informed decisions. He is a member of the H BK Cannabis Niche, H BK Transportation & Logistic Niche and the HBK Construction Niche. He is also very involved in the community and volunteers with several organizations.

Nick has been with HBK since 2004. He is a licensed CPA in Ohio and earned both his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting and Masters of Business Administration from Youngstown State University. He is a member of the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants (OSCPA), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), The Rotary Club of Warren, Ohio, Access Health Mahoning Valley, The Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania and Youngstown State University Penguin Club. He is also treasurer of The Oakwood Cemetery Association and the Trumbull Country Club.

Nick Richards

Nick J. Richards


Greenspoon Marder LLP

Nick Richards is a Partner in the Tax practice group at Greenspoon Marder LLP. He represents individuals and businesses in tax audits & trials, M&A, in managing tax debt, and he advises cannabis companies, owners and investors regarding tax and regulatory compliance matters. Mr. Richards has been a tax attorney for more than twenty years beginning his career with the IRS where he was a leading trial attorney, a Chief Counsel advisor, and a Special Assistant United States Attorney.

With his broad experience and understanding at all phases of the tax system, from reporting and assessment through appeals, court, and tax debt resolution, Mr. Richards achieves successful legal solutions tailored to his individual client’s needs. Mr. Richards also teaches tax attorneys and CPAs throughout the US and he is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Denver, Graduate Tax Program, where he teaches State and Local Tax and Civil and Criminal Tax.

Taxes can be stressful and Mr. Richards’ clients find relief in his broad experience in the IRS and in representing taxpayers large and small. He understands the tax system, provides informed advice, and protects taxpayers from the mistakes and missteps of those less experienced. Several years after leaving the IRS, he represented a Colorado cannabis company in one of the first IRS audits in the legalized industry. Since that ground-breaking case, he has gone on to successfully represent companies in many cities, states, courts and before the federal government. In addition to tax audits, trials and collections, he is widely recognized as a leading cannabis industry attorney and has extensive experience in IRC Section 280E and BSA cash reporting requirements. His knowledge of the tax system is essential when advising business owners and investors, particularly in mergers, acquisitions and entity formation.

Nick is a father of two young children, a proud husband, a music fan, and he enjoys the outdoors when not fighting for his clients.

Steve Schain

Steve Schain, Esq.

Senior Attorney

Hoban Law Group

Steve is admitted to practice in PA and NJ and represents entities, governments and individuals in choosing a structure, preparing and submitting license application, regulation, compliance and litigation, and drafting legislation. A nationally recognized consumer finance litigation, banking law and cannabis law expert, Steve is a The Legal Intelligencer and Cannabis Business Executive columnist, frequent Pennsylvania Bar Institute and National Bar Institute author and lecturer and serves as a court appointed judge pro tempore and arbitrator. Steve serves on both Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia County administrative committees charged with drafting and revising state and local cannabis related regulations and makes regular presentations to: Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, Bank Secrecy Act Compliance Group, and Cannabis Professional Advancement Series. Steve earned his B.A. degree from Pennsylvania State University and his J.D. degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he served as an editor of the Law Review and graduated with honors. Before entering private practice, Steve served as law clerk to a U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Dara Servis

Dara A. Servis

Co-Founder and Executive Director

New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association

Dara Servis is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association, a non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the legalization and promoting the cannabis industry. Prior to launching the NJCIA, Dara has been the Marketing Director and a registered lobbyist at one of the top lobbying firms in New Jersey, CLB Partners. Most recently, Dara left her post to form her own lobbying firm known as Strategic Advisory Servis. Dara has experience in guiding clients through New Jersey’s political landscape and navigating the legislature.

Dara entered the cannabis industry to battle the negative stigma. Her mission is to help promote responsible policy using her common sense practices and compassionate understanding. Dara is passionate and dedicated to advocating for a safe and viable market while promoting education.

In addition, Dara uses her past experience in marketing, paralegal work and knowledge of the industry to support the legalization efforts in developing educational symposiums, panels and community outreach campaigns. These crusades not only introduce the residents of New Jersey to the legalization movement but also help to educate the legislature, inform the public and patients on new laws, products and developments in the industry

Rani Soto

Rani Soto

New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association

Soto is the national Latinx outreach director for Minorities for Medical Marijuana.

Sean Stein Smith

Sean D. Stein Smith, CPA, CFE, CGMA, CMA, DBA

Assistant Professor

Lehman College

Sean is an expert and sought-after speaker, focusing on the intersection of financial services, blockchain and cryptocurrencies. He is a regular contributor to IBM’s Blockchain Unleashed website, analyzing applications for blockchain technology on business at large, as well as being a regular expert guest on China Global TV Network discussing blockchain and related applications. Sean is a member of the Advisory Board for the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance, which coordinates with the AICPA in developing standards and reporting frameworks in this emerging area. Sean continuously works with, and consults for, the AICPA and several professional training organizations in the creation and delivery of blockchain and cryptocurrency related content. He is currently under contract to publish two books focusing on blockchain applications for financial services and other industry sectors. Sean is the host of the NJCPA TechTalk Podcast and is a past leader of the NJCPA Emerging Technologies Interest Group.

Stacey Udell

Stacey D. Udell, CPA/ABV/CFF, CVA

Director of Valuation and Litigation Services

HBK CPAs & Consultants

Stacey is a director of Valuation and Litigation Services at HBK Valuation Group, which specializes in valuation, forensic accounting, economic damages and litigation support services. Her experience includes valuations of businesses and professional practices for purposes of estate and gift tax planning and compliance, divorce, business succession planning and mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, she has prepared damage study reports in connection with stockholder, insurance claims, and lost profits litigation, as well as reports in connection with bankruptcy proceedings utilized by the courts and trustees. Stacey also provides accounting and tax services for closely-held and family businesses including financial statement preparation, business and personal income tax planning and compliance, estate and business succession planning. She is a member of the AICPA, NJCPA, NACVA and New Jersey NACVA, and was previously the leader of the NJCPA Cannabis Interest Group.


In-Person Registration

    $269.00 - Member

    $369.00 - Nonmember

Webcast: Attend this conference virtually.

    $269.00 - Member

    $369.00 - Nonmember

Event Cancelled

This event has been cancelled.


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