After seeing 100% of its inaugural class receive job offers, Mass CultivatED is ready to do it again.
The Boston-based nonprofit organization is now accepting applications to be part of the workforce development program’s second cohort of future cannabis professionals.
Billed as a first-in-the-nation jail-to-jobs program, Mass CultivatED is a nonprofit public-private partnership designed to aid those most directly impacted by the War on Drugs in Massachusetts gain careers within the cannabis industry.
According to executive director Ryan Dominguez, the program uses a three-pronged approach. First, it partners with Greater Boston Legal Services and Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston to provide legal services, such as record sealing and expungement of drug offenses. Then it provides higher education opportunities through Roxbury Community College and professional training through the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, including “soft skills” necessary for transitioning out of criminal justice to a professional environment, like resume writing and interview skills. Finally, fellows are placed in an eight-week, $18-per-hour “hands-on externship” program at licensed cannabis businesses where they can expect to receive job offers at its conclusion.
“They can work in anything from retail to cultivation,” Dominguez said. “What’s new about this next cohort is that we’re opening up internships to work in the business and marketing and corporate side of the businesses as well.”
The program is the brainchild of Massachusetts Representative Chynah Tyler who in 2018 obtained the $50,000 of seed funding for the program from the state.
“She saw this as a way to connect the gap between this new industry and all these people who would be transitioning out of the criminal justice system,” Dominguez said.
All seven individuals in the organization’s first cohort received full-time job offers at one of the six partnering businesses. According to Dominguez, Mass CultivatED is partnering with 10 licensed businesses this time and expects to place two or three fellows at each business, for a total of up to 30 spots in this year’s cohort. Applications, available at masscultivated.com, are due May 9 with orientations starting in June. Applicants must be 21 or older and come from an area of disproportionate impact with priority given to those with cannabis-related criminal records.
— Brian Beckley
Legislators in Virginia passed a legalization measure in February that could open that state’s recreational market om Jan. 1 2024, but Governor Ralph Northam is working move that date up to as soon as this summer, according to reports.
The legislation, which decriminalizes possession at the same time, was considered a compromise and aside from such a delayed start date, it requires the legislature to re-approve parts of the law in next year’s session as well, after the next election cycle and a new governor is sworn in, as state law prevents the pro-legalization Northam from serving consecutive terms.
Under the law as written, adults over 21 would be able to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and home cultivation of up to four plants would be allowed. There would be a 21% excise tax with the ability for municipalities to add up to 3% tax on retailers on top of the state’s existing 5.3% rate.
Tax revenues would be used to fund pre-K education, substance treatment programs and other public health initiatives. In addition 30% of revenue would go to a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund to provide resources like scholarships and workforce development in areas most directly impacted by the War on Drugs.
Among the parts of the law that would have to be re-approved are the specifics of the retail market. The law also contains a mechanism for the expungement from records of cannabis-related offenses, though the specifics of which offenses would also need to be re-approved and re-signed by next year’s legislature and governor.
Northam had until the end of March to sign, veto or amend the legislation, with a special session called for April 7 to address any changes the governor would like made to bills passed this session.
Northam has made cannabis legalization part of his agenda for his final year in office and a recent poll showed 68% of Virginians support the measure. A fiscal analysis from the governor’s office late last year concluded a legal adult-use marijuana industry could be worth $698 million to $1.2 billion annually in economic activity and up to $274 million in tax revenues per year at industry maturation.