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New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission pushed back a bit on the idea that the industry is not opening up fast enough in New Jersey.
The comments came in response after Curaleaf, the largest distributor in the state, said last week it had to lay off workers at its Winslow production facility because they had enough product to handle what needed to be sold in the state’s 35 retail outlets.
The state’s largest cannabis union, UFCW Local 360, announced an application process for its apprenticeship program that’s meant to provide hands-on training for those who want to start a career in New Jersey legal weed industry as a retail employee.
Individuals can apply for the program from Friday, June 23 to July 7. The program is slated to start in the mid-August to September time period.
New Jersey’s Cannabis Apprenticeship Training Initiative—one of the nation’s first programs dedicated to training workers in the growing cannabis retail field—is gearing up to welcome its first group of 20 students this summer.
A pilot program uniquely presented by a broad consortium committed to workforce development in the state, the Cannabis Apprenticeship Training Initiative will provide industry-specific training for employees in the cannabis retail sector. The apprenticeship program is unregistered because cannabis currently is not legal at the federal level.
In the aftermath of the decision by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to rescind its previous vote denying the renewal of adult-use licenses to the industry’s largest MSO – an about-face one could see coming a mile away – Curaleaf CEO Matt Darin and Chairman Boris Johnson issued a public proclamation declaring a decisive victory over a vanquished enemy, as if they had just stormed the beach at Normandy. Even in victory, however, their celebratory comments could barely contain the contempt they still have for the CRC.
John Bartlett, Passaic County Commissioner, said he’s excited about the industry’s growth and wants to make sure the county upholds the state’s commitment to ensuring social equity in it. “Our economic development unit is open to support businesses that want to establish in Passaic County,” Bartlett said.
Economic And Social Justice Are Also Issues
As embodied in state law and underlined by the CRC, when cannabis sales became legal in the Garden State, it was time to fulfill the promise of helping those disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs, decriminalizing cannabis, eliminating registrations and implementing economic justice.
According to CRC Commissioner Charles Barker, who recently spoke directly to the cannabis companies at a monthly meeting, the state is not upholding its commitments to patient access, social equity and collective bargaining agreements.
Under the law, companies applying for a state license must show that they have signed a labor peace agreement with a union and must maintain the agreement if they want to keep their license. The law does not directly define a labor peace agreement, but such deals typically mean that employers will not oppose a union seeking to organize their workforce and that unions agree not to strike.
Nearly two months after adult recreational weed sales launched statewide on April 21, two of eight major cannabis companies now selling both medical and adult weed have gone fully union.
And four more are currently in major negotiations to go the same route, which collectively, could bring 250 new workers under the union umbrella, according to Hugh Giordano, Director of Organizing for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 360, which represents the state’s cannabis workers, as well as other retail, hospital, manufacturing and public sector employees.
Garden State Dispensary on Wednesday opened three locations in central Jersey for the sale of nonmedical marijuana. The dispensaries in Eatontown, Woodbridge and Union already were selling medical marijuana.
Cannabis trade magazine Marijuana Business Daily estimates that the value of New Jersey’s cannabis industry will quickly grow to more than $2 billion now that cannabis is legal for all adults over 21. For those numbers to be realized, New Jersey cannabis businesses will have to do some hiring. They’ll need people to grow the cannabis, process the cannabis, package the cannabis, and sell the cannabis, not to mention to deliver the cannabis.