Ohio Program Helps Cannabis Offenders Find Industry Jobs

A Youngstown, Ohio medical marijuana cultivator is working to bring those hurt by the War on Drugs into Ohio’s nascent cannabis industry. Brian Kessler helps run the city’s only medical marijuana grow operation, Riviera Creek Holdings, and his team is now helping develop a cannabis industry employment program for people convicted of crimes related to cannabis.

URC Grows, run in partnership with United Returning Citizens, will provide apprenticeships, mentorship, and training opportunities for people after cannabis-related incarceration. The idea behind the program is twofold: give these people a chance to get back into the workforce in a meaningful way, and expand the social footprint of the operation in a positive way.

So far, there are two students participating, and the team is hoping for at least 10. URC Grows will be open to people who were convicted of a cannabis-related offense, such as distribution, possession with intent, or illegal growing.

The program will also help train an Ohio area workforce to help the industry expand with recreational legalization. If Ohio lawmakers don’t act on a pending initiative before the end of 2021, it is likely that a parallel legalization bill will be before the voters in 2022.

Although a similar measure was rejected in 2015, the goal in 2021 or 2022 is to approve adult use over the age of 21 in Ohio. It seems likely to pass.

Ohio is among the strictest states in terms of regulatory schemes for medical marijuana, and it is likely that recreational cannabis will also be tightly controlled. As of now, there are about 200,000 medical marijuana patients in Ohio.

Now that so many people are thriving thanks to a legal cannabis market, the URC Grows program is hoping to assist some who were jailed over cannabis in the past—and improve the industry with their experience at the same time.

URC Grows will offer job training and education in three areas: hydroponics- and aquaponics-focused agriculture; farming-focused industrial hemp processing and sales techniques for hemp grain, fiber, or CBD; and medical-grade cannabis education and cultivation.

Along with this focused education, URC Grows students will receive business development and entrepreneurial training, including help filing required business documentation and developing a business plan.

Students who successfully complete both phases will get the chance to grow and maintain crops of hemp to support their own business idea, or take an internship or job with Riviera Creek Holdings.

Ohio Program Helps Cannabis Offenders Find Industry Jobs

A Youngstown, Ohio medical marijuana cultivator is working to bring those hurt by the War on Drugs into Ohio’s nascent cannabis industry. Brian Kessler helps run the city’s only medical marijuana grow operation, Riviera Creek Holdings, and his team is now helping develop a cannabis industry employment program for people convicted of crimes related to cannabis.

URC Grows, run in partnership with United Returning Citizens, will provide apprenticeships, mentorship, and training opportunities for people after cannabis-related incarceration. The idea behind the program is twofold: give these people a chance to get back into the workforce in a meaningful way, and expand the social footprint of the operation in a positive way.

So far, there are two students participating, and the team is hoping for at least 10. URC Grows will be open to people who were convicted of a cannabis-related offense, such as distribution, possession with intent, or illegal growing.

The program will also help train an Ohio area workforce to help the industry expand with recreational legalization. If Ohio lawmakers don’t act on a pending initiative before the end of 2021, it is likely that a parallel legalization bill will be before the voters in 2022.

Although a similar measure was rejected in 2015, the goal in 2021 or 2022 is to approve adult use over the age of 21 in Ohio. It seems likely to pass.

Ohio is among the strictest states in terms of regulatory schemes for medical marijuana, and it is likely that recreational cannabis will also be tightly controlled. As of now, there are about 200,000 medical marijuana patients in Ohio.

Now that so many people are thriving thanks to a legal cannabis market, the URC Grows program is hoping to assist some who were jailed over cannabis in the past—and improve the industry with their experience at the same time.

URC Grows will offer job training and education in three areas: hydroponics- and aquaponics-focused agriculture; farming-focused industrial hemp processing and sales techniques for hemp grain, fiber, or CBD; and medical-grade cannabis education and cultivation.

Along with this focused education, URC Grows students will receive business development and entrepreneurial training, including help filing required business documentation and developing a business plan.

Students who successfully complete both phases will get the chance to grow and maintain crops of hemp to support their own business idea, or take an internship or job with Riviera Creek Holdings.

the Hawthorne Social Justice Fund is providing grant funding for the program.

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