Rhode Island debuts free cannabis training to accommodate booming industry

Rhode Island’s labor department will fund a cannabis training program to accommodate the industry’s rapid expansion in the state, according to a May 29 announcement.

The free, eight-week program will be run by the Community College of Rhode Island and launches July 9 with a cohort of 15 students.

The program aims to accommodate the significant number of jobs available in the industry, according to the school; nearly 120 open roles in the state are seeking candidates with familiarity with the cannabis industry.

The program’s free tuition and flexible scheduling intends to make it “equitable and accessible to those from communities that have been impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” CCRI Director of Industry Partnerships Stacy Sullivan said in a statement.

The school said it is always looking to be responsive to employer needs and, to that end, hopes to create a robust cannabis workforce.

Employers in the cannabis industry have been wrestling with a “build or buy” question when it comes to talent: Is it better to pay a premium for talent with unique skills, or hire employees with other skills and invest in specialized training?

Rhode Island is just one of several states aiming to ease that conundrum with funding for learning. New York announced a similar effort in 2022, as did New Jersey.