Far Rockaway elected official launches cannabis workforce initiative to provide legal education for potential entrepreneurs

Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson is launching a cannabis workforce initiative to bring his constituents up to speed on the ways to capitalize on the new cannabis economy by the book. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

While elected officials across the city are alarmed by the proliferation of illegal cannabis shops across the five boroughs, estimated at around 1,300 according to the NYPD, one southeast Queens lawmaker is focused on the economic benefit this new sector can provide to his constituents when potential entrepreneurs choose to follow the legitimate path and do things by the book.

Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson is partnering with the New York State Cannabis Workforce Initiative (CWI) to collaboratively enroll community members in their inaugural 10-week program to provide quality workforce development and legal education.

Anderson will host an in-person kick-off event on Saturday, Jan. 28, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Greater Nexus co-working space, located at 89-14 Parsons Blvd. in Jamaica, providing an overview of the new program and updates about the regulated market by the NYS Office of Cannabis Management.

“It is crucial that communities like southeast Queens understand the full scope of economic development that is poised through the social equity parameters of the New York State Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act,” Anderson said. “As Black and brown communities, who have been severely harmed by the war on drugs, continue to be resilient in the perseverance of equality, we welcome the opportunity to provide our constituents with the necessary tools to be successful in the regulated cannabis industry. I am committed to working across communities, government and agencies to ensure communities are made whole.”

The NYS Cannabis Workforce Initiative’s 15-hour pre-employment certificate program is an overall introduction to the burgeoning cannabis industry, which is projected to create thousands of legitimate jobs across the state. Esta Bigler, co-chair of the NYS Cannabis Workforce Initiative, explained the partnership with Anderson — with the support of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and state Senators Leroy Comrie and James Sanders — for the launch of CWI’s 10-week Cannabis Career Exploration and Workers Rights Certificate program.

“It is critical to be out in the community, raising awareness of the range of cannabis jobs that will be available,” Bigler said. “We want to emphasize how important it is for communities negatively impacted by the prohibition of cannabis to have access to the opportunities opening up. There are real opportunities, and we believe this kind of training is key to helping folks find their path to good jobs in this new industry.”