One of New Jersey’s alternative treatment centers is partnering with two New Jersey cannabis industry advocates on a workforce development program dubbed the Minority Cannabis Academy.
Advocates Brendon Robinson and Stanley Okoro have teamed up with Harmony Dispensary and its CEO, Shaya Brodchandel, who has provided $165,000 in financial backing for the project.
“It is great that the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission prioritized the application process for minority entrepreneurs,” Robinson said. “But there needs to be opportunities for minorities at all levels.”
With initial educational programming that will include eight-week courses on budtending and horticulture, the MCA will lead participants on an industry pathway that includes working at a dispensary or cultivation facility.
This program — along with three additional courses that will be added to the MCA’s curriculum — is geared to prepare participants for success in high level roles as store managers, cultivation directors, and cannabis business executives.
“The Minority Cannabis Academy will create entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for disenfranchised communities and impact zones through education and workforce development,” Okoro said. “With education and technical training, we have the ability to reduce barriers and create a more diverse and equitable industry here in New Jersey.”
On Brodchandel, Okoro noted that “Shaya believes that the cannabis industry can transform lives, and that begins with creating opportunities for those who have been disenfranchised for too long.”
MCA will be housed at Harmony Dispensary’s Jersey City location; its initial cohort will include 25 students.
“We want the men and women participating in the MCA to get a full hands-on experience of what its like to work in the Cannabis industry,” Brodchandel said. “What Brendon and Stanley have created through their passion for education is the manifestation of teaching a man to fish. We are going to put real people into real jobs, helping them build real careers. That will make an impact on the community we are serving.”
Robinson said it would be a challenging program, designed as such because “this is a challenging industry. It’s also going to be authentic and provide a level of sustainability that this industry and our community deserves.”
The program has the support of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
“It’s encouraging to have fellow advocates like Harmony Dispensary who are taking their business a step further by creating invaluable workforce development opportunities for minority residents in the nation’s most diverse city,” Fulop said. “I hope others entering this industry will have similar forethought as to how we can capitalize on this pivotal moment for the betterment of our community.”