‘College to Career’ cannabis tour aims to teach students about the industry, create diversity

Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 10:55 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2022 at 11:02 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The cannabis industry has become one of the biggest and fastest-growing industries in the country.

“When you think about the act of God that was COVID-19, how it paused the entire world, and we saw entire economies and business sectors suffer, cannabis exploded,” said Andrew Farrior, Managing Partner at Digital Venture Partners.

The legalization of marijuana has created a multibillion-dollar business, but not everyone is cashing in.

Experts say there is a critical need for diversity in the field, and a group of people is trying to make that happen.

RELATED: Louisiana’s medical marijuana program still needs some improvements

The state’s medical marijuana program was under review at the Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 16.

“Traditionally in our communities as black and brown people, it’s been a terrorization or an over-criminalization of the plant, but now we want to put a positive aspect on it,” said Farrior.

A group of some of the top cannabis businesses in the country has banded together to go on an HBCU tour to teach students and young professionals how to break into the industry.

It’s called the Green Enterprise’s College to Career tour initiative. A few of the partners include Curaleaf, Digital Venture Partners, former NBA player Chris Webber’s Players Only Holdings, and Black Enterprise.

Southern University is the first stop on the tour. SU holds one of only two licenses to grow medical marijuana in Louisiana.

“We want, and we need our HBCU graduates to come into this space,” said Lanett Austin, Director of Talent Management and Diversity at Curaleaf.

This goes beyond just putting a seed in a pot or in the ground. Experts say there are a lot of different avenues you can go down in this business.

“We’re talking about marketing, human resources, finance, the legal aspects of things, we have scientists, doctors, truly it’s limitless of the opportunities,” said Austin.

Austin shared a personal story to explain the importance of this tour.

RELATED: Smokable medical marijuana now available for Louisiana patients

Louisiana's Medical Marijuana program made progress Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022 when raw smokable marijuana was added to the list of products available for patients.

“Many of us have come from communities that have been impacted negatively by previous cannabis laws where I have families that are incarcerated for life for the same plant that is now legal and being truly profited by many people that don’t have the backgrounds that we come from,” said Austin.

Officials at Southern say creating new opportunities for students to learn about new spaces is a big part of their mission.

“We want to make sure that our students have the knowledge to dream big, dream outside the box, and really go behind their passions, and even if they haven’t formulated their passions then hopefully, we can help them along the way to formulate those ideas,” said Marla Dickerson from the Southern University Law Center.

“When we talk about generational wealth and being able to expand this new industry to now start to write the wrongs that have impacted our communities, it’s even more important to say we want you, we need you, and now is the opportunity to come into this space,” said Austin.

Some topics to be covered during the initiative include:

  • A Look at Cannabis in the Deep South
  • A National Overview of Cannabis
  • Creating Opportunities for Diversity in Cannabis
  • Careers in the Emerging Industry
  • Black Farming and Agriculture in Cannabis
  • A Look Back at the 2018 Farm Bill and Industrial Hemp
  • Dispensary Ownership: A Different Entrepreneur
  • The Crossover: How to Enter the Cannabis Industry
  • My Family, Myself and Cannabis
  • A Cannabis Marketing Conversation
  • Cannabis and Social Media: Dos and Don’ts
  • Raising Capital for Your Cannabis Startup
  • The Deconstructing Prohibition: A War on Us

The symposium takes place Friday, Feb. 18, and Saturday, Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Anyone is available to attend.

Southern University continues its mask mandate across all campuses. Attendees must also show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours before coming to campus.

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