Garden State Hemp in Millburn: A CBD Store with a Healing Mission

Carl Burwell and Johnathan Rojas joined forces to open Garden State Hemp, a CBD/hemp store that sells several types of healing products with a mission to educate customers on what the best healing journey is for them. But before they reached their dream of opening Garden State Hemp, Carl and Johnathan had long journeys to achieve this milestone. Read on to learn more about Garden State Hemp located at 327 1/2 Millburn Avenue in Millburn.

Opening Garden State Hemp 

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Garden State Hemp was founded in 2019. “We realized NJ lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement on how to legalize the cannabis industry with respect to marijuana, and CBD was really starting to be recognized for its therapeutic uses. So, we decided to create a CBD and hemp retail business for the side of the market that still wanted to learn and use cannabis as a lifestyle alternative for stress, anxiety, sleep, or even their mood,” the team told us.

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‘The number one reason for being on the retail side is to be there for the consumer. They deserve a company that focuses on stocking high-quality products. Even though we will still go on to apply for a dispensary license, Garden State Hemp will always be there for people who don’t want to just get the “high” of cannabis use but also want to take advantage of its therapeutic benefits.”

About The Owners

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Both Jersey Boys through and through, Carl is from Dover and Johnathan is from Morristown. The pair attended rival high schools in Parsippany, where they first met. “We have been close friends since around 2005. The two of us have had a very close group of friends for a long time. Some of these friendships go back more than 18-25 years. We met through these friends and have been close ever since,” the duo shared.

Carl attended Mount Ida College in Newton Massachusetts playing for the football team and majored in criminal justice with a vision of working for the DEA, but left college after his first year to come home and get a job. “I found myself in a 10+ year career in Financial Services and Banking before deciding to start my own company,” Carl told The Montclair Girl.

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Jonathan attended Centenary University. When he’s not educating customers on the benefits of cannabis, he enjoys being outdoors and getting lost in the woods, whether it be camping or hiking. An avid animal lover, he dedicated over 13 years working in the pet industry with organizations like Seeing Eye in Morristown and at an Emergency Animal Hospital as a Veterinarian Surgical Technician. 

Before Garden State

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Johnathan’s journey into hemp predates his cannabis use. “When I was in high school {the early 2000s} terms like ‘climate change’ and ‘renewable energy’ were beginning to hit the mainstream, and it seemed like every science teacher had a project geared around these hot topics. I remember my assignment was to highlight some alternative fossil fuels, which led me to google and ultimately hemp biodiesel.”

He continued, “I proceeded to go down the proverbial rabbit hole and learn about the whole other side to weed known as hemp which led me to read The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer. Needless to say, that after reading this book my love for the cannabis plant in its entirety was sparked. I stumbled upon CBD during a trip to Colorado back around 2015. A buddy of mine, who suffered from anxiety attacks discovered that CBD was helping his ailment,” Jonathan explained. 

Fast forward to 2017, Carl approached Johnathan about taking the leap into the cannabis market. “We’ve had entrepreneurial ideas {going as far as creating a business plan for a chain of pet stores} and a love for the cannabis plant, so it was a no-brainer. My only stipulation when forming the company was that we put cannabis education at the forefront. With so much misinformation out there and so many different products to choose from we felt it was only right to start a cannabis business that focused on people and education,” he said. 

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Thyroid Health

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Carl’s journey with hemp actually started with Jonathan. “He introduced hemp to our friends back in high school and would always talk about how weed was not just something we could use to smoke and chill out. He talked about how hemp was used to make ropes, sneakers, clothes, and even hempcrete that could be used to build houses,” Carl explained.

“It wasn’t until later in my life that I realized I was more so drawn to how it helped me with my anxiety. Most people don’t realize it because of my personality, but I often deal with extreme generalized and social anxiety. My cannabis use over my adult life is what has helped me deal with this. I also came to realize how it helped me in sports as well by keeping my brain intact after a life of beating my head up in football.”

“When I decided I wanted to jump into cannabis, it was because I wanted to take something I was passionate about, which was cannabis, and use it for something I was good at, which was business. I understood that between the legal cannabis market coming to NJ with Governor Murphy about to take office, and the industrial hemp industry that wasn’t even being talked about, that this was a chance for me to create something of my own. So I turned to the person who first introduced me to the truths about it, Jonathan. This was the birth of our parent company Green Passion Industries,” Carl told us.

What To Expect At The Shop

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Carl and Johnathan’s mission is to protect the consumers that shop at their store by educating them. “With the fact that so many people were buying their CBD or hemp products online on Amazon or even worse, in Gas Stations, we wanted to educate consumers so they know what to look for when it came to shopping in cannabis. We developed standards for vetting companies on every aspect from growing practices to extraction methods to adequate lab testing. We even go as far as to inquire about added ingredients and if they are added for their actual benefits or as a novelty. With so much misinformation out there and so many different products to choose from we felt it was only right to start a CBD business that focused on people and education.”  

garden state hemp

The most popular products at the shop are the various strains of smokable hemp flower. The next two would be tinctures {oils taken by administering under your tongue} or ingestible capsules. 

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The shop also carries brands that target specific needs. “For instance, one brand we carry is called A CBD Remedy, what is special about them is their proprietary formula of full spectrum hemp CBD extract with a blend of strain-specific terpenes for a more targeted relief goal for example stress and anxiety vs pain and inflammation. But this brand uses a sweet organic almond oil for its carrier oil, some people have allergies to almonds. So, for that, we carry another full spectrum brand, Core Roots who instead uses an MCT {Medium-chain triglycerides} Oil from a coconut origin, they explained. 

garden state hemp

Other products include various gummies {including vegan options}, tinctures, topicals, edibles, bath + body products, beverages, capsules, hemp food, and even pet products! 

What makes Garden State Hemp stand apart from other shops is that Carl and Johnathan love taking the time to guide people through their journey. “The benefit Jonathan and I have is being able to draw from a combined 30+ years of personal experience with cannabis, not to mention the network of cannabis users that make up our friends, family, and colleagues from this space that we draw on.” 

Stay in the loop with Garden State Hemp and watch informational videos about CBD and hemp via the Instagram page.


Written by:

Victoria is MG's Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for the Hoboken Historical Museum + Fire Department Museum. She is a born and bred Jersey girl with deep roots in Hoboken and Jersey City. When she’s not touring delicious restaurants and attending events in the Hudson/Essex area, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, local festivities, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting, or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.