CANNABIS COMMUNITY CARE AND RESEARCH NETWORK (C3RN)

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  • 12 Nov 2019 10:45 PM | Marion (Administrator)
    Massachusetts regulators quarantine medical vape products as ban expires

    By Jessica Bartlett  – Reporter, Boston Business Journal

    10 hours ago

    The state's Cannabis Control Commission has quarantined medical marijuana vaping products as the state agency said it will seek to test the substances.

    The commission had indicated last week that it could order retail shops and dispensaries to quarantine products if Gov. Charlie Baker’s ban on medical marijuana vapes expired this week. On Tuesday the commission took action, instituting a quarantine on marijuana oil products such as vape pens, vape cartridges, aerosol products, and inhalers.

    The commission’s quarantine isn't as broad as the governor’s ban. The commission will allow vaping of marijuana flower, which marijuana advocates say is not as effective as vaping oil.

    The commission said in a release that the quarantine is necessary after the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention found on Friday that many of the vaping illnesses were tied to a substance called vitamin E acetate.

    “The Commission’s existing testing regulations and protocols do not require testing for vitamin E acetate,” the commission said in its Tuesday release. “Based on current manufacturing processes, it is possible that legal marijuana products sold in the state could contain vitamin E acetate or other potential ingredients of concern. As part of the Commission’s quarantine order issued Tuesday, licensed Marijuana Establishments and Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers are required to quarantine products on administrative hold in the state’s mandated seed-to-sale tracking system of record.”

    The commission added that it had begun talking to labs to understand their capacity to test for vitamin E acetate, and circulated an anonymous survey in September to understand ingredients and sources of additives used in marijuana products.

    In a press conference hosted Tuesday by cannabis advocacy groups known as C3RN, Cannabis Control Commissioner Shaleen Title said that the quarantine was in response to “credible evidence” of a problem, unlike the “ill-informed, unconstitutional” ban.

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    The ban on medical marijuana products was lifted on Tuesday after Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled last week that the commission, not the governor, had authority over medical marijuana products. Wilkins said the medical marijuana vape ban would expire at noon on Tuesday unless the commission took action.

    Will Luzier, one of four medical marijuana patients who filed suit against the vape ban, said he was disappointed in the commission's action.

    “I think its unfortunate that medical marijuana patients will not be able to get the medicine they feel they need to treat whatever malady they had," he said.

    He added that the commission should have started testing for vitamin E acetate, which had long been suspected of causing illnesses, earlier.

    The ban remains in place for nicotine products and recreational cannabis products, and litigation on those has been moved to the state Supreme Judicial Court for a hearing in December. The Baker administration has been ordered by the courts to hold a hearing in late November as part of emergency regulations for the ban.

    How much Mass. towns are charging marijuana businesses

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    28 photos

    The quarantine is the latest development in the months-long outbreak of vaping-related illnesses that has sickened 2,051 people across the country, as of Nov. 5. As of Nov. 6, three vaping-related deaths and 220 injuries had been reported in Massachusetts since the state started tracking vaping-related illnesses in September.

    Despite the bans, users have continued to vape. Consumers have flocked to MCR Labs in Framingham to have their vape product tested for harmful chemicals. While only one walk-in test was received prior to the ban, 73 have occurred since the ban.

    The lab’s experience matches the results of a survey released Nov. 6 by C3RN, which found that 32% of the 146 respondents had purchased THC vape products illegally since the ban. Additionally, 31% reported traveling to another state to get vape products. Of those that answered the survey, 63% said they were medical cannabis patients.

    “When you ban things you drive people to the illicit market,” Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a primary care clinician at Mass General Hospital and Harvard, said at the C3RN press conference. “The irony is, what's... making people sick is vapes from the illicit market. There is little evidence that people are getting sick from regulated products. It seems counterproductive to ban a regulated market where you can control, test and selectively ban certain agents and force people out of state or to the illicit market.”

    Grant Smith, a medical cannabis patient, added at the press conference that the ban had impacted his ability to receive much needed medication.

    “Take into consideration the human impact of these bans and act on evidence based recommendations from scientists,” Smith said.

    Even beyond Tuesday, there is likely to be a tighter regulations around vaping. The Commission will seek to enact more robust regulations around vaping in the longer term, saying at their meeting last week that they would develop rules around ingredients, labeling, testing, sourcing, storage, manufacturing and consumption processes of both vaping products and accessories.


  • 12 Nov 2019 3:50 PM | Marion (Administrator)


    Today, C3RN led a press conference on the Massachusetts Vape ban with several speakers from the medical cannabis and nicotine vaping communities. 

    The press conference launched today at noon, and shortly after the conference started the announcement that the quarantine on medical products  was released by the CCC. 

    The press conference lasted an hour, and speakers provided reactions and insights into the recent ban on vapes in Massachusetts, in addition to the announcement of the quarantine. 

    Online Press Conference Speakers: 

    12:00 - 12:05 - Dr. Marion McNabb, C3RN Open the Press Conference
    12:05 - 12:10 - Commissioner Title - Recap of the MA Vape Ban, Progress to date and  Recommendations 
    12:10 - 12:15 - Dr. Marion McNabb, Presentation of C3RN MA Vape Ban Survey Results 
    12:15 - 12:20 - Dr. Peter Grinspoon, Harvard/Mass General Hospital 
    12:20 - 12:25 - C3RN to read MCR Statement 
    12:25 - 12:30 - Grant Smith, Medical Cannabis Patient Statement 
    12:30 - 12:35 - C3RN to read Dr. Siegel Nicotine Statement 
    12:35 - 12:40 - Crysta Ascolillo, Nicotine Vape Consumer
    12:40 - 12:45 - Kate Phillips, C3RN Statement and Recommendations
    12:45 - 12:50 - Will Luzier, Tudestr Statement and Recommendations 
    12:50 - 1:00  - Dr. Marion McNabb, C3RN - recap the summary of recommendations

    You can find the full list of recommendations and statements provided HERE

    Watch the video HERE

    Thank you to the Boston Business Journal for Covering Todays Event, read the coverage HERE

    https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2019/11/12/massachusetts-regulators-quarantine-medical-vape.html

  • 6 Nov 2019 9:01 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    As Cannabis Control Commission prepares to vote on vaping ban, coalition says Mass. should lift ban on already tested THC vape products

    Today 4:49 PM

    By Tanner Stening | tstening@masslive.com

    The Cannabis Community Care and Research Network has written to the Cannabis Control Commission recommending a number of policy changes ahead of the commission’s vote on whether to keep Gov. Charlie Baker’s vape ban in place for medical marijuana patients.

    In a letter dated Nov. 5 and signed by company CEO Marion McNabb, C3RN outlined the steps it would like to see implemented to ensure medical marijuana patients have access to vape products. The letter was sent to the commission the day a judge ordered that the state be blocked from enforcing the ban on medical marijuana vape products, beginning on 12:01 p.m. on Nov. 12.

    The network’s recommendations include, among other things, stopping the ban on already tested and approved tetrahydrocannabinol products, establishing a vape buyback program and adopting “digital citizen surveillance system," according to the letter.

    The proposed buyback program would incentivize patients and consumers with discounts and designate sites for the disposal and testing of vapes purchased from the back market. This could include turning in an illicit vape for a discount medical vape from a regulated vendor.

    Other ideas are floated in the letter, including developing a secret shopper program for regulated cannabis vape products, revise labelling or testing standards based on local input and hold emergency public hearings to solicit feedback from the “scientific, clinical, consumer, patient and community.”

    The letter also includes the results from a survey C3RN launched on Oct. 29 assessing the impact the ban has had on Massachusetts residents. The survey showed that 57 percent of respondents said that lack of access to THC vape had impacted their health; 33 percent said the ban caused them to purchase illegal THC vape products on the black market; and roughly 20 percent said the ban caused them continue smoking.

    Roughly 60 percent of those who responded to the survey were between the ages of 25 and 44; 27 percent were between the ages of 45 and 65. Only 5 percent said they were ages 18 to 24, and roughly 7 percent were older than 65.

    Approximately 60 percent of respondents identified as medical cannabis patients compared to 31 percent who identified as a nicotine vape consumer.

    The Cannabis Control Commission will decide whether to keep Baker’s vape ban on medical marijuana vape products after Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ordered the prohibition lifted on those products for patients who are medical marijuana cardholders.

    Wilkins wrote that the state’s Department of Public Health likely exceeded its authority in issuing the ban without assessing its impact on small businesses or holding public hearings. The state now must go back and do both things after filing new regulations with the Secretary of State per a court order.

    charlie baker announces vaping ban

    Gov. Charlie Baker files vaping ban regulations with Secretary of State

    “We believe that means that the ban will remain in place,” Baker told reporters at the Statehouse.

    “The court therefore allows the [Cannabis Control Commission] time to adopt the Emergency Regulations in whole or in part,” the ruling states, “or decline to adopt any ban at all. Rather than disrupt the market, it allows the Emergency Regulations, as adopted by DPH, to remain in place for one week.”

    Vapor Technology Association originally brought the suit challenging Baker’s ban, and a group of medical marijuana patients and advocates intervened. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Monday announced it will hear arguments in December from the case.


  • 28 Oct 2019 12:31 PM | Marion (Administrator)


    Finalists announced for Cannabis Start-Up Competition

    October 24, 2019 2:03 am by Ellie Yeo

    The five finalists in the Cannabis Start-Up Competition, an annual contest hosted by Innovate@BU, were released Friday. BETSEY GOLDWASSER/ DFP FILE ILLUSTRATION

    The third annual Cannabis Start-Up Competition, which is hosted by Innovate@BU and Green Lion Partners and helps Boston University students and alumni who are developing companies ancillary to the cannabis industry, released its five finalists and slate of judges Friday.

    The finalists are competing to win $10,000 and free consulting services from Green Lion Partners, a Denver-based business strategy firm focused on fostering ingenuity and development in the cannabis industry.

    Five finalists were chosen from an applicant pool of start-up companies that support the regulated cannabis industry. Each team consists of at least one BU student or alumnus. The finalists are Boundless Robotics Inc., Trella Technologies, Phenoxpress, SMART and Waev.

    Boundless Robotics Inc., founded by Carl Palmer, a 2004 graduate of the College of Engineering and 2012 graduate of Questrom School of Business, employs robotics and AI to construct one of the world’s largest cannabis farms available to all prospective growers of safe and legal cannabis.

    Trella Technologies, started by Angela Pitter, a 1986 graduate of ENG, also focuses on cannabis farming by using their TrellaGro LST horizontal plant-training technology to make indoor cannabis farming more accessible and efficient.

    Phenoxpress, founded by Wendell Orphe, a 2019 graduate of the Metropolitan College, is a cannabis genetic testing company that offers low-cost sex testing, chemotype determination and plant pathogen screening to cannabis cultivation facilities.

    SMART, The Student Marijuana Alliance for Research and Transparency, started by Mariah Brooks, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a national network that provides education, research, and professional opportunities to college students in the cannabis industry.

    Waev, co-founded by Kendall Humphrey, a 2019 graduate of the College of Communication, and Nicholas Lai, a junior in ENG, is a cannabis consumption device that cuts the amount of product needed by 75 percent and uses a filtration system to eliminate odors and secondhand smoke.

    The three returning judges, Peter Bleyleben, Jaime Lewis and Kimberly Napoli, will be hearing from the five finalists as they deliver their final pitches Nov. 7 at the Questrom School of Business from 6 to 9 p.m. The event is open to the BU community and to the public.

    Humphrey, co-founder of Waev, said the smokeless, odorless technology of the Waev smoking device allows smokers to consume cannabis in social settings and outside without bothering those around them with second-hand smoke and odor.

    “If you don’t smoke, you don’t want to be around smoke … we want to invest in and promote [Waev] so people know that this is the solution and it’s cheap, it’s effective and it looks cool” Humphrey said.

    Humphrey said he and his partner, Nicholas Lai, hope to potentially use Green Lion Partners’ $10,000 prize and consulting services to develop new models of their product, including different options in size and material of the device, as well as to foster connections with local bars and other cannabis industries to promote sponsorship and awareness of Waev products.

    Carl Palmer, Boundless Robotics Inc. president and founder, wrote in an email that the goal of his business is to distribute cannabis through a safer and more efficient way.

    “Our mission is to ensure that more people have access to a high-quality, low cost, and safe product (flower),” Palme wrote. “The reason we are interested in this is because even though it’s [cannabis] legal in several states, a vast majority of the product still comes from the black market.”

    Palmer wrote that he was affected after seeing the impact of drug cartels in his home country of Mexico.

    “Being from Mexico and seeing what cartels have done to my country, I want to do everything possible to take that power away from [cartels] while still filling a demand for a safe product,” Palme wrote.

    The competition began in 2017 thanks to the donation of a BU alumnus involved in the cannabis industry. Ian Mashiter, director of BUild Lab and Questrom School of Business senior lecturer, wrote in an email that the donation was made to give students inspiration to join the competition.

    “The competition started in 2017 thanks to the generous donation of a BU alum who is himself involved in the industry,” Mashiter wrote. “He made this gift in order to encourage BU students and Alumni to come up with innovative new ideas and to get involved in this rapidly growing industry.”

    The winner of the 2017 Cannabis Startup Competition was Cannabis Community Care and Research Network, a company aimed at bringing together members of academia, politics, healthcare, the cannabis industry, consumers and producers to collaborate on research, education and business practices surrounding medical and adult use of cannabis.

    Marion McNabb, the CEO of C3RN, said the prize money and consulting she received after winning were very helpful to her startup.

    “I am continually impressed with BU and its forward thinking leadership in the cannabis industry and with Green Lion Partners for their continued commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in the ancillary industry,” McNabb said.

    C3RN has used the competition prizes to expand their network and develop new partnerships across Massachusetts, as well as launch event series’ surrounding cannabis education, science, and networking.

    Randall MacCaffrie, C3RN chief information officer, said that the advice from BU’s partners and resources has been invaluable.

    “The ongoing support in consultation from Ian [Mashiter] at the BUild Lab, specifically, but also from Green Lion Partners, has been invaluable,” MacCaffrie said. “They’ve continued their support all the way up until just today even, so we can’t say enough about that.”

    Mashiter said that Innovate@BU is proud to see the previous winners, C3RN and Mary’s List, a service that promotes cannabis projects and providers, succeed with their start-ups.

    “We are proud of our first two winners C3RN and Mary’s List,” Mashiter wrote. “We believe these kinds of entrepreneurs serve as great examples to our students on how to recognize and take advantage of new opportunities.”

    Selena Chen, a sophomore in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Services, said she thinks that BU’s focus on the business side of the cannabis industry is a good thing.

    “Personally, I think it’s good that [BU] is expanding the horizons of cannabis,” Chen said. “I feel like it’s always had a negative connotation so making it a business oriented thing is good and will open more people’s minds.”

    Noah Klein, a freshman in the Questrom School of Business, said he supports BU’s exploration of entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry, but is interested in how the university’s involvement in the competition reflects its own cannabis policy.

    “I know BU has a pretty anti-cannabis policy,” Klein said. “So I think it’s pretty interesting that they would embrace this merger.”

    Claire Lukacs, a junior in the College of Communication, said she is unclear as to why BU is hosting a competition about a cannabis start-up, but marijuana related products are not allowed on campus.

    “I guess I’m just a little confused,” Lukacs said. “Because I know it’s not allowed on campus but now it’s a whole thing with BU.”

    https://dailyfreepress.com/blog/2019/10/24/finalists-announced-for-cannabis-start-up-competition/

  • 28 Oct 2019 12:21 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    HCC, C3RN Launch State’s First Cannabis Education Center

    October 28, 2019 39 Views

    HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) recently announced the creation of the Cannabis Education Center to provide education and training opportunities and other business resources to individuals in the region who want to work in the state’s newly legalized cannabis industry.

    “The emerging cannabis industry in Western Massachusetts will spur investment, economic growth, and job creation in the Pioneer Valley,” said Jeff Hayden, HCC’s vice president of Business and Community Services. “The purpose of the Cannabis Education Center is to create an innovative learning space for those interested in joining the cannabis workforce as an employee or entrepreneur.”

    HCC and C3RN are designated training partners through the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Vendor Training program. The program was designed to provide priority access, training, and technical assistance to those negatively impacted by the drug war.

    The Cannabis Education Center will be managed out of HCC’s Kittredge Center and provide academic advising and workforce training, public education events that highlight entrepreneurship and workforce development, entrepreneurship events for those interested in joining the cannabis industry as a startup company, and social-equity training for applicants qualified through the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Training program.

    More information about these programs will be posted soon on the Cannabis Education Center’s website, cannabiseducationcenter.org.

    The Cannabis Education Center will also be running four previously announced certificate programs for specific jobs in the cannabis industry: cannabis culinary assistant, cannabis retail/patient advocate, cannabis cultivation assistant, and cannabis extraction technician assistant. The first of those programs, cannabis culinary assistant, will begin on Jan. 11, 2020, at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.

    Each certificate program will consist of 96 hours of instruction, half of which will be held on the HCC campus with the other half conducted through C3RN’s internship program with participating dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers, and ancillary businesses.

    Registration and scholarship information will be released on the Cannabis Education Center website on Friday, Nov. 1.

    “The Cannabis Education Center is the first of its kind in Massachusetts,” said Marion McNabb, CEO of C3RN. “Our programs are designed to provide high-quality, skill-based, and innovative training that not only give students knowledge of the industry, but also practical experience through on-site internship programs with local cannabis partners. Working with local industry, educators, students, and policy makers, we aim to create a learning and collaborative environment that utilizes innovative educational technologies and covers the latest trends and best practices, including B2B and B2C resources.”

    C3RN and HCC will also be running five courses for the entrepreneurship track in the Social Equity Program starting Saturday, Nov. 23 at HCC’s Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center, 206 Maple St., Holyoke. The first two-session class, set for Nov. 23-24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will focus on business-plan creation and development. Information about scholarships will be posted soon on the Cannabis Education Center website.


    https://healthcarenews.com/hcc-c3rn-launch-states-first-cannabis-education-center/

  • 28 Oct 2019 11:38 AM | Marion (Administrator)

    HCC, C3RN Launch State’s First Cannabis Education Center

    By BusinessWest Staff October 28, 2019 149

    HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) recently announced the creation of the Cannabis Education Center to provide education and training opportunities and other business resources to individuals in the region who want to work in the state’s newly legalized cannabis industry.

    “The emerging cannabis industry in Western Massachusetts will spur investment, economic growth, and job creation in the Pioneer Valley,” said Jeff Hayden, HCC’s vice president of Business and Community Services. “The purpose of the Cannabis Education Center is to create an innovative learning space for those interested in joining the cannabis workforce as an employee or entrepreneur.”

    HCC and C3RN are designated training partners through the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Vendor Training program. The program was designed to provide priority access, training, and technical assistance to those negatively impacted by the drug war.

    The Cannabis Education Center will be managed out of HCC’s Kittredge Center and provide academic advising and workforce training, public education events that highlight entrepreneurship and workforce development, entrepreneurship events for those interested in joining the cannabis industry as a startup company, and social-equity training for applicants qualified through the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Training program.

    More information about these programs will be posted soon on the Cannabis Education Center’s website, cannabiseducationcenter.org.

    The Cannabis Education Center will also be running four previously announced certificate programs for specific jobs in the cannabis industry: cannabis culinary assistant, cannabis retail/patient advocate, cannabis cultivation assistant, and cannabis extraction technician assistant. The first of those programs, cannabis culinary assistant, will begin on Jan. 11, 2020, at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.

    Each certificate program will consist of 96 hours of instruction, half of which will be held on the HCC campus with the other half conducted through C3RN’s internship program with participating dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers, and ancillary businesses.

    Registration and scholarship information will be released on the Cannabis Education Center website on Friday, Nov. 1.

    “The Cannabis Education Center is the first of its kind in Massachusetts,” said Marion McNabb, CEO of C3RN. “Our programs are designed to provide high-quality, skill-based, and innovative training that not only give students knowledge of the industry, but also practical experience through on-site internship programs with local cannabis partners. Working with local industry, educators, students, and policy makers, we aim to create a learning and collaborative environment that utilizes innovative educational technologies and covers the latest trends and best practices, including B2B and B2C resources.”

    C3RN and HCC will also be running five courses for the entrepreneurship track in the Social Equity Program starting Saturday, Nov. 23 at HCC’s Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center, 206 Maple St., Holyoke. The first two-session class, set for Nov. 23-24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will focus on business-plan creation and development. Information about scholarships will be posted soon on the Cannabis Education Center website.

    https://businesswest.com/blog/hcc-c3rn-launch-states-first-cannabis-education-center/

  • 24 Oct 2019 10:47 AM | Marion (Administrator)


    Holyoke Community College to offer cannabis industry training programs

    Holyoke Community College 

    Marion McNabb, chief executive officer of the Worcester-based Cannabis Community Care and Research Network, speaks at a forum on Monday, Oct. 21, where Holyoke Community College formally announced the launching of its Cannabis Education Center. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

    Kate Phillips, director of education for the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network, speaks at a forum Monday where Holyoke Community College announced its Cannabis Education Center. HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

    By JACQUELYN VOGHEL

    Staff Writer

    Published: 10/24/2019 8:46:39 AM

    HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College will launch the state’s first Cannabis Education Center to train students for careers in the state’s emerging marijuana industry.

    The center will be managed out of college’s Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development and will offer certificate training courses for four different roles: patient advocate and bud tender, cannabis cultivation assistant, cannabis extraction technician assistant, and cannabis culinary assistant. The center is being created in partnership with the Worcester-based Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN).

    With legal cannabis “being new to the Massachusetts industry, there’s a need for people who have specific skills training to be ready for these particular jobs,” said Jeff Hayden, vice president of Business and Community Services at HCC. “Our effort is really focused on that workforce development piece.”

    Hayden expects the center will train around 100 individuals within its first year, with classes composed of about 20 students each, and expand in future years.

    Students will split their time between classroom learning and hands-on internship experience, Hayden said, totaling 96 hours of training. The center is currently finalizing which companies it will work with for the internships.

    More information on registration will be available on Oct. 28, and cannabis culinary assistant classes will begin in January. Training for other roles will be held in the following months. All courses are offered as six sessions held Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    The center will also offer training in the Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Vendor Training program. The initiative is one of many programs “developed in response to evidence which demonstrates that certain geographic areas and demographic populations, particularly Black and Latinx, have been disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and incarceration for cannabis and other drug crimes as a result of state and federal drug policy,” according to the center.

    It was HCC and C3RN’s inclusion in this program that spurred the idea of the Cannabis Education Center, Hayden said, noting that the training can offer a particularly valuable resource to unemployed or underemployed communities.

    “This is an exciting effort that encompasses not only public education and social equity training,” Hayden said, “but the chance to allow people who haven’t had access to workforce and job opportunities to have a new set of skills that will help them be able to get employment and become productive workers at these new Massachusetts businesses.”

    Costs to enroll are still being solidified, Hayden said. The center’s ultimate goal is to offer the training for free, but he is not yet sure whether this will be possible.

    The center will soon publish scholarship information on its website.

    Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

    https://www.gazettenet.com/CannabisEdCenter-hg-102319-29567794

  • 22 Oct 2019 12:35 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    Connecting Point WGBY57 Springfield, Connecting Point

    Watch the interview HERE

    Holyoke Community College and the Cannibis Community Care and Research Network have teamed up to launch a Cannabis Education Center at the community college. A forum was held at HCC earlier this week to explain the industry and opportunities available. Carolee McGrath sat down with Holyoke Community College’s Jeffery Hadyen, Marion McNabb of C3RN, and INSA CEO Matt Zatyrka to find out about the new center.

  • 22 Oct 2019 12:13 PM | Marion (Administrator)

    By Jeanette DeForge | jdeforge@repub.com

    HOLYOKE – Holyoke Community College officials announced they are opening the first cannabis education center in the state and will teach the first class in November.

    The announcement was made in front of a crowd of at least 75 people, some of them who have opened businesses in the fledgling industry and others who wanted to learn more about working in cannabis. It was followed by a panel discussion with industry experts, including owners of some of the first legal adult-use cannabis businesses in the state.

    “It promises opportunity for many and it promises opportunity for many who have not had access to opportunity before,” said Jeff Hayden vice president of business and community services for the college.

    The Cannabis Education Center is being opened in partnership with the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network and with the help of several local cannabis business owners who have agreed to offer on-site internships that will be part of the program, he said.

    “It will be a huge step up for us,” said Mark Zatryka, chief executive officer of INSA, which opened one of the first Massachusetts recreational cannabis businesses in November in Northampton.

    Because anyone who works in the industry must pass background checks and be certified through a state process, it costs the business about $1,000 and takes six to eight weeks before a candidate can begin working, he said.

    Finding someone who has already gone through an educational program and is ready to work in the industry will ease hiring difficulties and prevent turnover, he said.

    “The biggest challenge is finding the right people. It is a really intense business,” said Meg Sanders, chief executive officer of Canna Provisions which has a business in Lee and is expecting to open a second business in Holyoke soon.

    Sanders said her employees range in age from 21 to 80 and one of her best workers is a man in his 70s. Her company invests significantly in training employees especially in retail.

    The Cannabis Education Center will begin with four certificate-based workforce programs that will include 96 hours of instruction stretched over six weeks. While 46 hours will be classroom time on campus, students will spend the other half learning hands-on at internships at local businesses, Hayden said.

    The courses will focus on four different jobs with the class for a cannabis culinary assistant starting first in January. The other three, cannabis retail or patient advocate, cannabis cultivation and cannabis extraction technician will all be rolled out by this spring, Hayden said.

    Some of those classes will incorporate skills which the college already teaches, for example OSHA safety regulations will be tied into cannabis cultivation and Serve Safe courses will be tied into the culinary class, he said

    The Education Center is also running five additional entrepreneur courses designed for people eligible to apply for licenses from the state Cannabis Control Commission under its social equity license program set up for people who have convicted of a crime related to cannabis or have been negatively impacted by the drug war.

    Those classes will begin with a two-session all-day class that will run on Nov. 23 and 24 and will focus on business plans and training.

    Hayden said he hopes eventually the college will be able to expand that into an entrepreneur course for anyone interested in beginning their own business.

    Registration will begin as soon as next week and Hayden said he hopes to have a total of about 100 people enrolled in the different programs by late spring.

    The cost of the programs has not been determined yet since the college is working with partners to set a tuition amount. The average cost of certificate programs at Holyoke Community College is around $2,000 but costs can be defrayed by scholarships and by business partners, he said.

    Because the college’s workforce development programs are designed to reach out to people who are seeking a job or trying to get better at their existing job, Hayden said the college works to keep the cost as affordable as possible, understanding those who are unemployed or underemployed have very limited money.

    People can learn more about the programs on the center’s website cannabiseducationcenter.org.

    “There is great opportunity for those looking for jobs in the workforce,” said Marion McNabb, chief executive officer for Cannabis Community Care and Research.

    Currently there are 196 approved cannabis businesses that are operating in the state and 377 businesses with applications that are awaiting approval from the state Cannabis Control Commission, she said.

    Most of the licenses issued so far are in retail, manufacturing and cultivation. There are great opportunities to begin businesses or work in other areas of the industry where far fewer licenses have been sought including testing labs, transportation and micro-businesses, she said.

    “We are partnering with testing labs,” McNabb said, adding the Holyoke Community College program may eventually expand to include a course for people interested in working in labs.

    Original Article Link: https://www.masslive.com/news/2019/10/holyoke-community-college-opens-first-cannabis-education-center-in-state.html

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