Social justice and economic development came together at The Healing Garden, an urban farm in Far Rockaway, where community youths grow produce on an abandoned city-owned lot on Beach 45th Street, providing produce in a southeast Queens food desert.
State Senator James Sanders chose that location and “made history” as he joined Cannabis Hub to launch the first-of-its-kind cannabis workforce training in the nation. His “Breaking Ground: Cannabis Education Initiative” is for individuals who want to start a business or simply get a job in the emerging cannabis industry coming soon to New York state, and made possible by the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).
Sanders presented the details of his collaboration with the Cleveland School of Cannabis that will provide a free, world-class education primarily to community members who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.
“Let this process begin,” Sanders said. “The war on drugs was fought here; let the war on poverty begin here.”
The initiative will provide three education modules that will serve 25 students per cohort in an eight-week program teaching cannabis cultivation, dispensing and extracts and infusions.
Each program requires one hour of live streaming instruction per week and online pre-recorded classes from 7 to 8 p.m. beginning Oct. 6.
“If you don’t have a computer, I encourage you to use Queens Public Library,” Sanders said. “At the end of this course, you will have a certificate, so you can be employed or move your own business forward, from a legitimate school, not Billy Bob’s school on the corner.”
Sanders explained that the teachers who devised the accredited program are the “best and most respected leaders in the cannabis industry,” having fine-tuned their already immense expertise at the Cleveland School of Cannabis. Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson endorsed the initiative.
“This is a visionary program that we’re bringing,” Anderson said. “This is an opportunity to train up to be Queens’ next business leaders. It’s an opportunity to right the wrongs that have been done to our people for decades. It’s powerful that our neighbors and community members adversely impacted by cannabis prohibition will gain priority access to this training program.”
“There is a Chinese proverb that says, ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’ You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity, my friends,” Sanders said. “Cannabis is going to be one of the most rapidly growing industries New York has ever seen, and those who are not paying attention will get left behind.”