NJ.com- Those who want to snag a job in a New Jersey medical marijuana dispensary can get a leg up on the competition without heading out west for a job, thanks to a new college course.
A 15-hour certificate training to become a dispensary technician will be held at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus beginning May 9. Sarah Trent, an attorney and chief executive of cannabis company Valley Wellness, will lead the course.
“Knowledge of the legalities, the state’s guidelines, and the medical implications of medical cannabis are key to working in a medical dispensary,” Trent said.
Workers do not need special certifications or college degrees to work at one the state’s seven medical marijuana companies, but must pass a background check and need knowledge of the industry’s regulations. Nationally, though, cannabis employers have said they struggle to find employees with applicable experience in the nascent legitimate industry.
“While you can go to Colorado or California and get cannabis training by working in the industry, that shouldn’t be necessary,” Trent said. “The New Jersey cannabis industry should look to train and hire from within and that is why I approached RVCC.”
The course will touch on the legal status of medical marijuana in New Jersey, the basics of growing, harvest and processing and the available products. It will also provide an intro to the endocannabinoid system, a bodily system that regulates processes like sleep, appetite and mood and interacts with cannabinoids (the compounds, most notably THC and CBD, found in the cannabis plant).
The class isn’t geared just toward those working behind the counter, but could also apply to employees in growing and processing, or anyone interested in learning more about the medical marijuana field, Trent said.
Thomas Gianfagna, a Rutgers University plant biology professor and Tim Weigand, of Compassionate Care Foundation, a dispensary in Egg Harbor, will teach parts of the courses.
The non-credit course is the first of its kind. Students at Stockton University can study the topic in both depth by declaring a minor in cannabis studies under a program launched last in 2018.
New Jersey’s medical marijuana program is only expected to grow: Five medical marijuana dispensaries granted licenses from the state Health Department will open this year. One, TerrAscend in Phillipsburg, could open to patients as early as this spring.
The health department also put out a call for 24 new businesses last year that would include dispensaries and grow facilities, but two lawsuits have put the application process on hold.
Trent’s company, Valley Wellness, applied for one of the licenses in the latest round of applications.
The Raritan Valley course costs $400, but tuition waivers are available to veterans. Those who attend each class and pass a short exam at the end will receive certificates.
Registration information is available here.