Rhode Island To Offer Free Cannabis Industry Training

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Community College of Rhode Island will provide free cannabis training courses to a limited number of students.
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Rhode Island will offer a cannabis training program that prepares workers for industry, providing the skills they will need to thrive in the workforce.

According to a May 29 announcement, Rhode Island’s labor department will fund a cannabis training program to accommodate the bustling industry. The Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) is launching an eight-week Cannabis Training Program, working together with the state’s Division of Workforce Partnerships.

This 45-hour training program is free of charge, and it’s funded by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s Real Jobs RI initiative. The training program begins Tuesday, July 9 at CCRI’s Liston Campus in Providence. Classes are held online and in person with curriculum taught by skilled teachers to provide students with a foundational knowledge of the entry-level jobs. The classes will provide students with the skills they need, and the applicable regulations. Students can also visit local businesses and receive employment assistance. 

The pilot cohort program will first enroll 15 students. Those interested can sign up for an interview by filling out the program inquiry form. The flexibility of the course scheduling and free tuition ensures the program is “equitable and accessible to those from communities that have been impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” according to CCRI Director of Industry Partnerships Stacy Sullivan. 

“CCRI’s Division of Workforce Partnerships is always looking to be responsive to employer needs and we are proud and excited to create a training for this emerging industry,” said Division of Workforce Partnerships Vice President Jennie Johnson. “We look forward to having a hand in creating a robust cannabis workforce.”

More community colleges and four-year schools are offering cannabis certificates, so CCRI plans to help people interested in the state’s cannabis workforce industry. The United States’ cannabis labor market has grown exponentially each year since 2017 with the number of cannabis jobs increasing from 321,000 in 2021 to 428,059 in 2022. After adult-use recreational cannabis was legalized in Rhode Island in 2022, the number of available cannabis jobs in the state increased by 45 percent to 1,649 in 2023. There’s also 118 jobs in Rhode Island that list “familiarity with the cannabis industry” as a required skill with more than 100 cannabis-adjacent businesses, including CBD retailers, and 62 licensed cannabis cultivators currently in the market. By next year, cannabis is projected to become a $45 billion industry in the United States.

Founder and CEO of EZHire Cannabis Jacob Carlson and Certified Commercial Cannabis Expert Melissa Rutherford were instrumental in developing the curriculum and will teach courses in the program’s pilot cohort.

“Having the ability to learn job skills in a new industry is important and having CCRI embrace cannabis education is a boon to Rhode Island residents interested in determining if this emerging marketplace is right for them,” Rutherford said. “The class will introduce students to the legal cannabis industry and discuss how skills as varied as culinary, customer service, and risk management can all be applied in this growing field.”

“The question of how people are supposed to learn skills about jobs that didn’t exist legally in a highly-regulated industry always puzzled me. How are legal cannabis businesses supposed to find trained employees? That’s why this partnership with CCRI makes sense for us at EzHire Cannabis,” Carlson said. “We are seeing more need for entry-level workers, which aligns well with community college programs, both from a cost and training level.”

Rhode Island’s Cannabis Industry Grows

Adult-use cannabis sales in Rhode Island have been surging. During the state’s first year of adult-use sales, which ended last December, the Office of Cannabis Regulation says that sales “have steadily increased almost monthly over the past year, and the estimated sales for Fiscal Year 2024 is $76 million.”

“That sales estimate, if met, would translate into more than $15 million in state and local revenue: $7.6 million from the state’s 10% cannabis tax, $5.3 million from the 7% sales tax and $2.3 million from the 3% local tax,” the station reported, noting that the Office of Cannabis Regulation “estimates that, in October alone, more than $7 million worth of recreational cannabis products were sold statewide.”

Rhode Island lawmakers passed a bill in 2022 that legalized adult-use cannabis for people ages 21 and older, and it became the 19th state in the U.S. to do so.

The bill, which legalized possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults and also permitted possession by adults of up to 10 ounces is permitted in a private home, was approved by members of the state General Assembly in May of 2022. The measure also established the framework for legal, regulated recreational cannabis sales in Rhode Island. The new training program will help people decide where they fit in the industry.

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  1. Offering free cannabis industry training? This is a great step towards empowering the community and providing opportunities for people to enter this growing field. Kudos to Rhode Island for taking this progressive step!

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