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Maryland Governor Launches Marijuana Workforce Development Program Focused On People Criminalized Over Cannabis



The governor of Maryland has launched a first-of-its-kind marijuana workforce development program, with a focus on supporting industry participation by people who’ve been criminalized over cannabis.

Less than two weeks after issuing a mass pardon for over 175,000 marijuana and paraphernalia convictions, Gov. Wes Moore (D) announced the Cannabis Workforce Development Program—a free service for eligible applicants that is being jointly run by the the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) and the Maryland Department of Labor (DOL).

“This groundbreaking collaboration will support Marylanders interested in joining the state’s growing cannabis industry and prioritize individuals and communities directly impacted by the War on Drugs,” Moore said in a press release on Thursday. “For decades, cannabis policy has been used as a cudgel. Together, we prove how cannabis policy can be used as a valuable tool to leave no one behind.”

Through the program, participants will be able to take eight self-paced courses taught by industry experts, licensed marijuana business operators and college professors. After completing 100 hours of virtual instruction, they will also be able to enroll in a two-day, in-person course for occupational training.

The governor’s office says the initiative “will help reduce barriers to employment and create paths to sustainable jobs in the cannabis industry.” The administration will be accepting applications on a rolling basis beginning on Monday.

“Maryland is leading on cannabis reform and reinforcing that legalization must be accompanied by efforts to address the burdens of criminalization,” MCA Director Will Tilburg said. “Through this program, individuals adversely impacted by cannabis criminalization will be able to receive real-time, hands-on experience and access to job placement.”

The first training location is expected to be located in the Baltimore area this November, with plans to expand to five other regions over the course of the next year.

Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Portia Wu said they “wanted to prioritize” the program “for residents who have been limited in the past by a prior cannabis-related conviction.”

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Meanwhile, Maryland’s governor also recently said that he intends to work with lawmakers to facilitate expungements as a follow-up to his pardons, which the White House said President Joe Biden “commends and welcomes” as he continues to promote his own cannabis clemency actions at the federal level.

Moore also discussed the Biden administration’s move to federally reschedule marijuana during a virtual event with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) last week.

In Maryland, officials also announced in April the winners of a first-of-its-kind marijuana licensing lottery for social equity applicants across all license categories, approving 174 growers, processors and dispensaries. A second lottery was held on Friday.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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