Want to work in cannabis? A New Mexico college has a program for that. - Albuquerque Journal

Want to work in cannabis? A New Mexico college has a program for that.

A flowering marijuana plant at Verdes. Photographed in 2019. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

With recreational cannabis sales starting next year, the workforce development arm of New Mexico’s largest community college is offering a program designed to train and certify workers looking to enter the industry.

CNM Ingenuity, the enterprise arm of Central New Mexico Community College, on Thursday announced a partnership with the New Mexico-based cannabis curriculum provider SeedCrest to offer a 40-hour online training program for up to 100 students this fall. Students will get a detailed overview of the cannabis industry, from safety and security protocols to the history of cultivation, and will receive a certification that sets them up to work in a variety of positions.

Mary Gallivan, senior director for program management at CNM Ingenuity, said she hopes the program can help build a pipeline of qualified employees that can support the soon-to-launch recreational cannabis market.

“As new industries emerge, there are new training opportunities to support those workforces,” Gallivan said.

The Cannabis Regulation Act, signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this spring, requires that rules be in place to allow New Mexico’s first recreational sales to begin no later than April 1, 2022.

SeedCrest founder Shanon Jaramillo said current projections show the industry creating around 11,000 new jobs, as new license-holders start operating and existing companies scale up to meet the new demand. Jaramillo said she expects there will be more jobs open – ranging from farming to working in a dispensary – than there are trained New Mexicans to fill them, which could hamper the industry’s growth or force companies to hire out-of-state workers if they can’t create a pipeline.

“We’re really working hard to make sure that New Mexico and New Mexicans get access to education and training,”Jaramillo said.

SeedCrest, which launched in July 2020, offers a range of online trainings through its website, but Jaramillo said partnering with New Mexico colleges allows SeedCrest to reach students where they are, including rural areas of the state. The organization worked with Northern New Mexico College on a similar pilot program that ended in August, and Jaramillo said she’s had discussions with other schools around the state.

The course through CNM Ingenuity costs $979 and is slated to begin Nov. 1. Gallivan said students will have six weeks to complete the 40 hours of work, with an orientation and scheduled check-ins with advisers to give the course more structure.

“We find it sets people up for success when there’s a start date and an end date, and a series of check-ins,” she said.

Students must be over the age of 18 to take the course, but Gallivan said they do not need to be on a degree track at CNM to apply. The class aligns with existing state requirements for the industry and graduates receive a certificate of completion from CNM and SeedCrest.

Students have until Oct. 25 to apply. Visit www.cnmingenuity.org/program/cannabis-technician for information.

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