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New York Gives $5 Million to Community Colleges for Cannabis Industry Job Training

Community colleges in New York are set to receive millions in funding “to support the creation or enhancement of short-term credential programs or course offerings that provide pathways to employment in the cannabis industry,” the state announced on Monday.

Four schools that are a part of the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) systems will receive a total of $5 million that the state said will support “programs that will create or enhance non-degree and degree-eligible courses and programs, stackable credentials, and/or microcredentials that quickly address local employer skill needs within the cannabis sector, a projected multi-billion dollar industry with tens of thousands jobs.”

“New York’s new cannabis industry is creating exciting opportunities, and we will ensure that New Yorkers who want careers in this growing sector have the quality training they need to be successful,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (a Democrat) released a statement on Monday. “Diversity and inclusion are what makes New York’s workforce a competitive, powerful asset, and we will continue to take concrete steps to help ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate in the cannabis industry.” 

The funding is part of the Empire State’s continued preparation for its new regulated cannabis industry that is expected to launch at some point this year.

New York has legalized recreational use of pot for adults in the last year. Individuals aged 21 or older can now smoke marijuana and carry three ounces. 

Hochul was elected to office in August after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state’s cannabis market has steadily taken shape.

New York’s first recreational cannabis crop is nearing harvest, with the state’s established hemp farmers receiving the first slate of cultivation licenses.

New York, like other states which have abolished pot prohibitions has taken a concerted approach to redressing the harm done by the War on Drugs.

The state announced earlier this year that dispensary licenses will be granted to those who have been convicted of marijuana-related crimes or their families.

In the announcement on Monday, the state said that the “cannabis credentialing program aligns with Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to delivering new employment opportunities to New Yorkers, especially those from historically underserved communities, while also supplying local employers with a highly skilled, locally sourced talent pool.”

Three SUNY campuses were selected to receive $1 million each: Schenectady County Community College, which will “serve as lead campus with partners Adirondack Community College, Columbia-Greene Community College, and Fulton-Montgomery Community College,” and “is estimated to include over 300 participants”;  Niagara County Community College, which will “serve as lead campus with partners Erie Community College, Genesee Community College, and Jamestown Community College, and will “include over 4,000 participants”; and Orange County Community College, which will “serve as lead campus with partners Dutchess Community College, Rockland Community College, Sullivan County Community College, Ulster County Community College, and Westchester Community College, and is expected to “include over 200 participants.”

One CUNY campus—Borough of Manhattan Community College—will receive $2 million, and will “serve as lead campus with partner Lehman College” and is expected to include more than 360 participants.

Those selected schools “must also partner with local employers in the cannabis industry and receive their input on curriculum development,” the state said in the press release, which also noted that “the New York State Department of Labor and the Office of Cannabis Management will support efforts to expand learning opportunities by helping to connect businesses and job seekers to these essential training programs.”