The CultivatED program will offer scholarships, workforce training, job placement, and pro-bono legal services to individuals who have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. This pilot program will be held at Roxbury Community College over a 12-week summer semester starting this June.
“It’s a true jail-to-jobs program that’s needed to correct the systemic inequities that put people in jail for the very product that is now legal," said state Rep. Chynah Tyler, who led the initiative, according to The Boston Globe.
Any US citizen 21 years or older who has been negatively impacted by the enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws is welcome to apply, but preference will be given to applicants who have weed-related crimes on their record. However, the program is currently only a pilot for a larger-scale effort, and only 15 applicants will be enrolled in this year's course.
Each selected candidate will participate in eight weeks of paid field experience at cannabis retail and cultivation companies, and all candidates are guaranteed employment in the industry upon course completion. Each student will also receive a higher education certificate.
“The goal of this program is to provide a continuum of support, from individualized legal services and record expungement, to specialized industry-related education, as well as workforce development opportunities during and after the program, which will prepare our students to enter the workforce with the tools they need to excel,” Tyler explained.
The state gave $50,000 to get the program started, while another $150,000 of individual grants was donated from local cannabis companies. If the program is able to secure increased funding, it will be implemented on a larger scale starting next year.
Kim Napoli, director of diversity programs at New England Treatment Access, LLC — one of the cannabis companies that contributed to the program — said that the company takes its commitment to diversity “seriously,” MassLive reported. “We are honored to have this opportunity to share our resources and expertise to directly benefit those who need it most as well as the cannabis industry at large,” she said.
Tyler noted that this program is the first of its kind in the nation. Other colleges, including Colorado State University, the University of Maryland, and Northern Michigan University have launched their own cannabis programs, but none of these schools are making efforts to specifically help people who have been harmed by the War on Drugs gain employment in the legal weed industry.