Meet The Minority Cannabis Academy: Building Bridges Between Industry Leaders, Advocates, Educators And Community
Already deeply entrenched in the cannabis industry, a reality born out of their own experience with the negative impact of the “War on Drugs,” two entrepreneurs, Brendon Robinson and Stanley Okoro, have announced plans to launch the Minority Cannabis Academy (MCA).
“It is great that New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) prioritized the application process for minority entrepreneurs,” Robinson said. “But there needs to be opportunities for minorities at all levels.”
Thanks to the financial and professional backing of Shaya Brodchandel, CEO, Harmony Dispensary, this non-profit, workforce development program is being established to tackle what the pair say has been a shortfall in New Jersey’s pathway to legalization.
With initial educational programming that will include 8-week courses on Budtending and Horticulture, the MCA is intended to provide a pathway for individuals that want to begin in the industry by working at a dispensary or cultivation facility.
This pilot programming, and three additional courses that will also be added to the MCA’s curriculum, will ultimately help prepare future minorities for a wide range of positions including as top-level CEOs, store managers, and cultivation directors.
“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.”
Okoro went on to praise Brodchandel for his “understanding support” of the cannabis culture saying that while his financial contribution of $165,000 is going to provide “critical” support for education, just as important is the fact 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.”
Expected to welcome its first class of 25 students from Jersey City, Newark, and Irvington in June, the MCA will be housed at Harmony Dispensary’s Jersey City location. “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.”
“This is going to be a challenging program,” Robinson warned. “It’s being designed that way 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.