OAKLAND, Calif. – The nation’s first Cannabis Workforce Development Grant Program launched in the City of Oakland in November, 2020. The $1 Million initiative–the first of its kind–stems from a statewide California program that earmarked $20 Million specifically to support Equity programs, in a spirit of leveling the playing field to allow for equal representation of Black and Brown communities who were the most affected by the War on Drugs.
Supernova Women will be one of the first organizations to recruit, train and facilitate employment of workers from this program. In total, 10 (ten) workers will be trained along two tracks: METRC management and cannabis manufacturing operations. The state funding from the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go Biz) provides remuneration of $20 per hour for training and on-the-job experience. The newly minted professionals will then be paired with an Equity cannabis business based on organizational needs, fit and skill.
Historically, workforce development programs focus on people (instead of businesses), consider barriers of entry for the region, and are created with the intention of matching workers’ skills to the needs in an industry. The idea is that as skill levels increase, communities can better compete with upwardly-mobile jobs.
Given that there were 1,181 felony marijuana arrests in California in 2019, where 41.7% were Hispanic and 22.3% were Black, the quest for equitable engagement in legal cannabis is still ongoing 1 . (https://www.canorml.org/judicial/california-arrest-and-prisoner-data/)
Whitney Beatty, Vice President of Supernova Women and a cannabis entrepreneur says,“ The legal cannabis space is on a path to be more representative of the Black and Brown individuals who have been cultivating and producing cannabis medicine for decades. The legacy workers in weed deserve a fair shot to engage in this newly regulated industry.”
Beatty offers a grounding thought on the kind of impact this program will have on the future of equity and inclusion in the industry: “We have been in talks with the City of Oakland for several years about this program. It aims to address skill gaps, and ensure seamless skills acquisition for meaningful and sustainable engagement in the legal cannabis industry by those who are most negatively affected by the War on Drugs. This is a big win.”
About Supernova Women
Supernova Women is a women of color led non-profit organization with a mission to empower people of color to become self-sufficient shareholders in the cannabis industry. We do this through education, advocacy, and network building. Our organization was founded in 2015 by Amber Senter, Nina Parks, and Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho. Andrea Unsworth joined the Supernova Women board of directors in early 2016. Supernova Women is a national organization headquartered in Oakland, California.