GALLOWAY — Imagine being a young engineer when the dot-com era was just getting started.

Leaders in the cannabis industry claim today's college students are in a similar situation, so they should strike now to be part of something huge.

"We're all looking for people to fill gaps," said Douglas Glander, co-owner of Ocean Township-based Shore Grow. "In New Jersey, there's a lot of opportunity because there's not a lot of people with experience in cannabis."

The hydroponics equipment supplier was one of several businesses to participate Friday in a cannabis career fair on the campus of Stockton University. More than 200 people interested in the future of the industry attended the all-day event, which included speed interviews for students of Stockton and other schools.

Stockton also offers a minor in Cannabis Studies, which covers issues such as cultivation and running a business.

"I'm looking to get into this field," Rafi Hoque, a Stockton junior, told the Townsquare News Network. "I feel like this is the latest commodity, not just for medical purposes but also for the adult use."

Marijuana use is legal for medicinal purposes in the Garden State. The medicinal program has expanded largely under Gov. Phil Murphy's watch. Efforts to legalize recreational use, which has the support of Murphy, appears to be at a standstill until next year.

Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association, said cannabis-related jobs increased in the state by 355% from 2018 to 2019. College-aged students, he said, have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a rapidly expanding industry.

"Be open minded and be flexible, because you're going to find a job that you like but you're going to be in a startup," Rudder advises students. "This is the perfect age right now. We're still at our infancy stage as an industry in New Jersey."

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