5/6/20 By DAN ULLOA
An online cannabis class is being offered by Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in June to prepare students for jobs in cannabis dispensaries and elsewhere in the industry.
The March class, which was the first time the cannabis class was offered, was recently completed. It featured a number of New Jersey cannabis leaders teaching students about the nuances of the industry. The effort to offer a cannabis class was spearheaded by Sarah Trent, CEO of Valley Wellness.
“I saw a need for individuals interested in working in a …to have a way to learn more about the laws and science of medical cannabis and to understand the skills and knowledge that one would need to successfully seek employment,” Trent said.
Besides those looking for jobs, the cannabis class is relevant for individuals that want to know more about the industry, science, products, and regulations. The June class will be similar to that the class taught in March. The March class did not count towards college credits.
It normally costs $500. However, they are offering tuition waivers for some veterans. It is offered through the RVCC Workforce Training Center. In general, the center instructs students for jobs in specific trades.
Unique Non-Academic Class
The cannabis class is unique with multiple individuals teaching full classes for the duration cannabis class. It is exceptional because there are only five classes within the course each being about three hours. Thus, it is not spread over the length of the traditional college semester. Moreover, you do not have to be an enrolled student at RVCC to take the cannabis class.
It is not in the traditional model of academia in contrast to the program at Stockton University which teaches several cannabis classes that amount to a minor in cannabis studies offered to enrolled students.
Trent said the goals of the program are to provide accessible job training, and to increase awareness about the benefits and science behind clinical cannabis AKA medical marijuana.
Extensive Curriculum for Cannabis Class
Day one of the class will address clinical cannabis laws, rules, and regulations of the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program (NJMMP) taught by Trent and Seth Tipton, co-chair of the Cannabis Law Special Committee of the NJ State Bar Association.
“Teaching and curating the class has been very rewarding,” said Trent regarding the cannabis class thus far.
The next session will include the history of the plant, plant physiology, the basics of commercial grows, manufactured products, and how those products are made in the state. Plant basics are taught by Rutgers horticulture professor Dr. Tom Gianfagna, and Brian Staffa who works for a cannabis manufacturer in Nevada.
Day three will showcase the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). It will be taught by Dr. Monica Taing who is on the Board of Directors of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DCFR). Taing discusses receptors in our body, the effects of THC and CBD on the human body, strains, forms of administration, dosing, potential hazards, and the therapeutic effects of cannabis.
The fourth day will focus on dispensaries. It will be taught by Tim Weigand and Cady Riley from the Botanist by Compassionate Care Foundation based in Atlantic City. Weigand is Director of Expansion and Cady is the General Manager. They will go through a day in the life of a dispensary attendant (or budtender), what jobs are available in the dispensary, how to register patients, how to verify allotments in the NJMMP portal, explanation of different Point of Sales (POS) systems, labeling, and how to interact with a patient.
Day five will be a review of the prior classes, how to find a job in the industry, and resume building tips. Students are then tested. In the June cannabis class, the speakers will include Aaron Epstein, Executive VP at Garden State Dispensary, and Max Meade from Brown and Brown Insurance.
The cannabis course seeks to be comprehensive for those seeking to enter the budding industry.
“As a recent hire for a vertically integrated cannabis company in New Jersey, I feel that this class has given me the foundational knowledge and confidence to start a new career,” said Joe Pierro who took the course in March.
Aspiring ATC Backed Program
Trent worked as a lawyer before setting up Valley Wellness which is seeking an Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) license.
Valley Wellness applied for a dispensary license in the application round last summer. That round is being held up by a lawsuit that has been held up due to the Coronavirus.
Trent said she raised money from family and friends to apply for the permit. Many of her team members are investors with experience in other highly regulated fields.