March 5, 2024
man in suit smiling
Joshua Perez

This year, the UPCEA Outstanding Professional, Continuing, and/or Online Education Student Award will be presented to Joshua Perez, who recently earned Rutgers Law School’s Certificate in Cannabis Law and Business. Perez will receive this award at the 2024 UPCEA Annual Conference later this month in Boston, Massachusetts. Each year, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) awards individuals and institutions for their achievements in innovative programming, leadership, teaching, online learning, and more.

This award recognizes Perez’s outstanding characteristics as a student, including an unwavering commitment to expanding his expertise, a willingness to share his already robust business and cannabis knowledge with his peers, and his resilience in the face of adversity. Indeed, while enrolled in the course, Perez juggled launching his own dispensary, welcoming his first child into his family, balancing a full-time job, and caring for his mother who is a quadriplegic multiple sclerosis (MS) patient.

Perez witnessed firsthand the power of cannabis on his mother’s symptoms and overcame an expunged cannabis-related arrest to launch a successful career on Wall Street. He now plans to open a cannabis dispensary in Bergen County called Deo’s Garden.

“I enrolled in Rutgers Law’s cannabis certificate program because I wanted to sharpen my skills in trademarking, law, and compliance,” he says. “In addition to developing these skills, I’ve created valuable relationships with my fellow students and many of the guest speakers who came to share their expertise.”

Since his time in the program, Perez has become an unofficial mentor for many of his colleagues, won the Cannademix Educator of the Year award, was elected to the Teaneck Township Advisory Board on Community Relations (which advises the mayor and council), trained with the Ganjier Council in Humboldt County, California to become a sommelier in cannabis, and is a recurring adjunct professor for Rutgers Law’s cannabis program. 

“Winning this award is vindication for the trauma my family and I had to endure as a victim of the War on Drugs, and also a celebration of cannabis being normalized into society,” Perez says. “I want to dedicate this award to my family, who sacrificed in order for me to have this opportunity, and to my fellow social equity licensees who have the courage to join this industry. I also want to thank Rutgers University for nominating me and providing me with the opportunity to become a professor in the cannabis program, which was one of my career goals. I am looking forward to launching Deo’s Garden Dispensary as a true New Jersey, minority, and social equity owned business in Teaneck, New Jersey.”

Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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