As New Jersey’s legal weed market continues to grow, more and more universities are adding cannabis studies to help prepare interested students to enter the multimillion-dollar industry.
Hudson County Community College is the latest to develop a cannabis curriculum focused on local residents.
“We want to make sure that people here are given this opportunity locally through education on how to do it here, because it all starts here, locally,” said Ara Karakashian, the associate dean. of business, culinary and hospitality programs. “No people from outside the county come here for profitability.”
Karakashian developed the university’s cannabis program with long-time input from New Jersey industry professionals. The university aims to offer certifications and an associate’s degree.
“We’re excited to work with the local community, work with local entrepreneurs, and we’re in a place where we can really choose which corporations, which local businesses we’d like to work with,” Karakashian said. “Of course, the preference is that, as dean, I would rather work with a local-based company, trying to open locally.”
Jersey City University is positioned to make sure as many area residents as possible have a chance to set foot in the industry, Karakashian said.
“We saw the adverse effects of cannabis criminalization on the local community and decided who best to offer a path to the industry now that things are relaxing in New Jersey,” he said.
“As time goes on and we develop a culture that embraces this plant and this industry, we continue to drive and move this ball,” said Josh Alb, founder of Edison-based educational company Cannademix.
Alb’s company worked with the university to host a free community-oriented event on June 23 (11 a.m.-6 p.m.) on cannabis education, policy, business, and community restoration.
The event will include speaker panels and an extinction clinic. The Cannademix event is one of the most recent examples of how the academic world of New Jersey is partnering with companies on how to enter the cannabis market intertwined with social justice issues.
Lori Margolin, associate vice president of continuing education and workforce development, noted that the event was the first of its kind at the university.
“I am very excited about the event because it is the first thing we are doing and it is bringing together many different aspects of the cannabis industry,” he said.
Cannabis Lawyer Jessica Gonzalez de Hiller, a PC law firm involved in the development of the university’s curriculum, will be a speaker at the event.
“The composition of HCCC is mostly Latino students, followed by black students. HCCC is located in Jersey City, the most diverse city in the United States where I grew up,” he said. “It is an important step for this institution to adopt cannabis to ensure that the most disadvantaged communities have access to cannabis education and are aware of the opportunities that this industry offers.”
Supporting the university as a cannabis lawyer is one way to return, Gonzalez said.
“I want to teach cannabis courses in the same room where my mother was sitting while she worked to give a better life to my sister and me.”
Hudson Community joins Stockton University, Rowan University, Raritan Valley Community College and Bergen Community College to establish a curriculum to help meet the opportunities that open up for the new industry.
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Jelani Gibson is the content leader NJ Cannabis Insider. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ jelanigibson1 yen LinkedIn.