19 Oct 2018 11:20 AM | Anonymous

Holyoke, MA – October 19, 2018 - Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) is pleased to announce on October 18th that the team was selected as a qualified vendor for the first state-wide social equity program. C3RN wrote a proposal to work Holyoke Community College (HCC) and the City of Holyoke to develop cannabis workforce training programs for Holyoke and the surrounding regions, funded by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. The project scope, collaborative partnerships, timelines, and next steps are subject to further negotiations with the Cannabis Control Commission.

C3RN, HCC, and the City of Holyoke proposed to design a pilot model workforce training and competency-based internship/apprenticeship program for four entry-to mid-level occupations to meet the growing cannabis workforce needs in Holyoke and the Region.

This model cannabis education-to-employment program will build on HCC and the City of Holyoke’s efforts to revitalize the city and surrounding areas and will bring the highest-level of evidence-based education to the workforce.

“Today’s decision by the Cannabis Control Commission for the C3RN selected as qualified vendor and C3RNs partnership to have Holyoke be a site for Social Equity Training will bring lasting economic impact in our City” said Mayor Alex Morse. “We already offer the best cost profile and platform for cannabis growing in the state, adding to that the workforce development component will only strengthen the industry’s success here further, as well as its positive impact for our residents.”

Holyoke is one of the first industrially planned Cities in the country, boasting a municipally-owned Gas & Electric Company that provides some of the cheapest electric rates in Massachusetts and New England, primarily from its hydroelectric resources. Affordable and plentiful water and mill real estate complement the City's attractive profile for this activity. City residents and municipal government have enthusiastically embraced the cannabis industry as an economic cluster and have seen early success by attracting and permitting companies that will grow, process and sell cannabis products.

An integral part of ensuring the success of these companies and growth of the Holyoke and surrounding economies, the team proposed to develop four comprehensive training, internship, and apprenticeship programs for emerging cannabis occupations.

After students receive core competency training, they will be paired with one of over 51 cannabis companies, academics, ancillary businesses, consultants, experts, and other stakeholders who have signed on to be a member of the C3RN/HCC training, internship, and apprenticeship network. C3RN and HCC plan to train job seekers from Holyoke and surrounding areas for four new workforce occupations:

  • Cannabis Cultivation Assistant
  • Dispensary Patient Advocate/ “Bud Tender”
  • Extraction Technician Assistant
  • Cannabis Pantry Cook/Cannabis Culinary Assistant

“This is an important step in establishing an educated, informed, and standardized workforce for the cannabis industry while providing a streamlined process for employment for social equity applicants,” said Dr. Miyabe Shields, PhD, director of Education for C3RN. “The cannabis industry is at a critical point of its development and we are thrilled to be able to assist the CCC in creating employment opportunities and raising the bar for cannabis education across the board.”

The proposed C3RN/HCC training and internship/apprenticeship certificate program will be designed for cost-effective and sustainable scale to all of Massachusetts and other community colleges with a focus of highlighting inclusion for all, celebrating diversity, and promoting equity – including prioritizing the 29 cities of disproportionate impact as defined by the CCC. Massachusetts has also prioritized the 29 “Gateway Cities” – those with a need to revitalize industries.

“We are hopeful the training models produced in this project will have wide, culturally relevant, lasting, and technically sound impacts on addressing stigma against cannabis use in Massachusetts, the U.S., and globally.” said Dr. Marion McNabb, DrPH, MPH, CEO of C3RN.

This new-to-Massachusetts industry provides employment opportunities especially for those communities with high levels of poverty and unemployment. The team hopes to be the leaders in setting the standard for certificate training and innovative models of bringing those who have operated in the industry for decades into the new, legal and regulated market.

“The goal of this one-year pilot program will be to train and link students to employment opportunities for those from Holyoke and greater Western Massachusetts,” said Jeff Hayden, Vice President of Business and Community Services at Holyoke Community College.

“The purpose of this two-pronged training is to help individuals get placed in a job and to find long-term career pathways.” Hayden added that there will not be any cannabis or cannabis products on the HCC campus or on any of its off-campus sites where training may take place.

“Further contract negotiations pending with the CCC, the proposal intends to train students in customer service, dosing, and extraction methods and techniques, but when it is time for students to work with actual product, that will take place offsite through our partner C3RN,” he said. “As the education partner, we want to ensure that local residents and students have access to opportunities – including those in emerging industries such as cannabis – that lead to jobs.”

There is also a clear need for restorative justice in the emerging cannabis industry – ensuring those who have worked in this industry for decades have meaningful leadership and pathways for employment and entrepreneurship.

“One of the most exciting parts of this collaboration is a “Cannabis Life Credit” program that prioritizes access and ‘transfer’ credits for individuals that have prior convictions, experience, or expertise in any aspect of the cannabis industry. We hope to fast track those operating in the unregulated market to the new legal, regulated industry with pride and respect for the deep expertise that lies there. It’s time for a new era of cannabis justice, and we are honored to play a role in making that happen.”, said Randal MacCaffrie, Co-founder of C3RN and Chief Vision Officer.

Future plans for the project and collaboration with other social equity training vendors selected will be dependent on next steps identified by the Cannabis Control Commission.

Do you want to continue to stay updated and support cannabis research, science, evidence-based, and collaborative education?

Join our Massachusetts State-approved group of like-minded businesses, academics, healthcare providers, consumers, and patients all committed to open change through education! Here are some ways to take action and join!

A few options for participating in this new academic and internship network include:

  • ·       Be a subject matter expert, internship, or job site with C3RN and HCC
  • ·       Support equity-focused initiatives and groups in the 29 cities identified as disproportionately impacted by the drug war in Massachusetts
  • ·       Contribute your ideas, science, or data to drive social change and incite scientific discovery in cannabis


Anyone interested in joining the program or in advancing evidence-based cannabis education to develop a strong, safe, and regulated cannabis industry visit to become a C3RN/HCC partner. Full services will launch on November 1, 2018.

About C3RN

Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) is a woman-owned public benefit corporation based out of Somerville, MA formed in January 2017 with the goal of advancing the science, education, and research around adult-use and medical cannabis in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The overall goal of C3RN's work is to break down silos and advance the evidence-base by connecting stakeholders to educate, share best practices, change healthcare and research paradigms, and promote restorative justice for those who have disproportionately affected by the drug war in Massachusetts and beyond. C3RN specializes in designing, monitoring, and evaluating models of medicinal and adult-use cannabis to break stigma, positively impact social, clinical, and public health outcomes. At present C3RN is operating an innovative open-data community-driven research study and orchestrating further research and related projects in the cannabis space. The company, with input from clinical research partners, designed The Anonymous Open Cannabis Consumer and Patient Survey which has been put out nationwide in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

On November 1, 2018 C3RN will formally launch a virtual cannabis center of excellence – an online platform for connecting with cannabis and healthcare experts, companies, academics, consumers, and patients interested in advancing cannabis science and research.

Join to be a leader in developing how research, science, and community will drive the cannabis industry -

About HCC

Holyoke Community College is the Commonwealth’s oldest community college, serving more than 11,500 students annually in credit and noncredit programs and courses. The college holds transfer agreements with more than two dozen colleges and universities. Recognized for its Honors Program, online learning curriculum, learning communities, and service to students, HCC also offers business development opportunities through the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development. In September 2016, HCC became a federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution. Please visit us on the web at


Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN)

Dr. Marion McNabb, DrPH, MPH
CEO and Co-Founder
(404) 985 – 8149

Holyoke Community College

Chris Yurko
Media Relations Manager
(413) 552-2259 (office)
(413) 977-1255 (cell)

City of Holyoke

Marcos A. Marrero
Director. Planning and Economic Development
City of Holyoke
(413) 322-5575
(413) 322-5576

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