Massachusetts Coalition Launches CultivatED Jail-to-Jobs Program
BOSTON -- A coalition of elected officials, academics, lawyers and cannabis industry leaders today announced a major initiative to empower, educate and employ individuals disproportionately impacted by the nation’s failed War on Drugs.
Unveiled as “The CultivatED Program,” the initiative was championed by Massachusetts State Rep. Chynah Tyler (D-7th District) who both convened the CultivatED Program partners and introduced and obtained critical seed funding through the legislative process.
Driven by a public-private partnership between the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, Roxbury Community College, Greater Boston Legal Services, the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, and the state’s leading cannabis industry members, the CultivatED Program will select fellows who reflect those individuals most directly impacted by the nation’s failed War on Drugs. Fellows will receive full-scholarship awards, gaining them access to individualized pro bono legal services, a higher education certificate program, workforce training, fully paid and benefited co-operative learning and externship rotations in the cannabis industry for educational credit hours, and job placement upon completion of the program.
“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,” said Tyler. “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.”
As the result of the budget appropriation, the program began with $50,000 in state funding, and was quickly followed by a $25,000 contribution from MedMen Enterprises, one of the nation’s largest cannabis retailers. The fund has now reached more than $150,000 in commitments, with generous contributions from CultivatED Founder’s Circle members: New England Treatment Access LLC, SIRA Naturals, Inc., and Garden Remedies, Inc.
“We are committed to ensuring the new industry is fair, transparent and equitable for all who wish to participate,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “I thank Rep. Tyler for being a strong advocate and leader on this issue.”
Mayor Walsh added the CultivatED Program will help advance equity in the marijuana industry.
“I’m proud to support this program,” he said.
The CulitivatED announcement came during the opening events on the Main Stage of the 2019 Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition in Boston.
“Operating legally licensed dispensaries is a privilege that comes with the responsibility to make a positive impact on the communities we serve,” said Morgan Sokol, executive vice president, regulatory affairs at MedMen, which has applied for licenses to operate two cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts. “It is a matter of social justice that we believe should be attached to the repeal of cannabis prohibition.”
During the 2019-2020 school year, a small-scale pilot of the program will be initiated on the campus of Roxbury Community College. The initial phase will serve as proof of concept for a full-fledged project that will attract funding from third parties with the aim of executing the program at full scale for the 2020-2021 school year.
"This is a great and unique opportunity for a holistic and comprehensive approach to support incredible careers in a burgeoning industry in the Commonwealth,” said Tom Sannicandro, director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges (MACC). With a lens deliberately focused on equity, CultivatED and the community colleges are excited to support this pathway for many students in Massachusetts."
The CultivatED Program will be supported by a Board of Overseers which will be made up of representatives from the Program’s Institutional Partners, including Roxbury Community College and its president, Dr. Valerie Roberson, who will serve as a co-chair of the Board of Overseers, as well as Founding Circle benefactors representing the state’s leading cannabis industry members.
“We represent more than 30 members in the cannabis industry, and we wholeheartedly support this important cause,” said David Torrisi, executive director of the Cannabis Dispensary Association. “We are proud to work with Rep. Tyler and other partners on this new initiative to fulfill our industry’s promise to be inclusive and support communities disproportionately impacted by past drug policy.”
More information about the project and how to contribute can be found at www.masscultivated.org.