Oakton to offer free cannabis training
Last updated 11/14/2021 at 8:15pm
Budding entrepreneurs interested in pursuing careers in the emerging cannabis industry can enroll in one of Oakton Community College's cutting-edge cannabis training programs this spring - tuition-free - thanks to a renewed grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
The grant will allow up to 45 individuals who meet Illinois' Social Equity Applicant (SEA) criteria and plan to apply for an Illinois cannabis business license or who have received a business license to enroll in Oakton's Cannabis Patient Care Specialist Certificate, Cannabis Transportation Logistics, and Supply Chain Certificate or Cannabis Cultivation Certificate.
The grant is funded through the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act Social Equity Program.
Criteria to qualify as a Social Equity Applicant includes (but are not limited to):
• The applicant's dispensary would have at least 51% ownership and control by an individual who has resided in an area disproportionately impacted by previous cannabis laws.
• The applicant or a family member has been arrested or convicted of an offense eligible for expungement under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
• The dispensary would employ ten or more individuals, of which at least 51% live in a disproportionately impacted area or have been arrested or convicted of an expungement-eligible cannabis offense.
"We are thrilled to help individuals make a positive impact on their community by offering high-quality training that will prepare them for success in the cannabis industry, said May Alimboyoguen, Oakton's assistant dean for Health Careers. "The grant, which creates opportunities for individuals negatively impacted by previous cannabis laws very much aligns with Oakton's priority of increasing equity for all students."
"In partnership with Oakton Community College and other local partners, DCEO is working to build capacity through small business assistance and training opportunities so that more entrepreneurs can succeed in this industry," said DCEO acting director Sylvia Garcia. "Under Governor Pritzker's leadership, Illinois is at the forefront of creating inclusive opportunities for individuals – particularly those harmed most by the War on Drugs – to launch and grow innovative social equity businesses in the cannabis industry."
In spring 2022, Oakton will launch the Cannabis Cultivation Certificate, offering hands-on instruction in the brand-new cannabis cultivation lab on Oakton's Des Plaines campus. The lab is the first cannabis cultivation lab on an Illinois community college campus, allowing students to gain hands-on experience cultivating hemp plants, which are botanically identical to cannabis.
Understanding the seed to harvest growth cycle will prepare students for a broader range of opportunities in the cannabis industry, specifically in dispensaries and cultivation and craft grow centers.
In 2019, Oakton launched the Cannabis Dispensary and Patient Care Specialist Certificate - Illinois' first community college health communications program focusing on medical cannabis.
The 12-credit hour program prepares students to educate medical and adult-use cannabis consumers. Oakton's curriculum also helps students understand the laws, regulations, and business operations of the cannabis industry.
Oakton also offers the Cannabis Transportation, Logistics, and Supply Chain Management Certificate- further expanding training for students interested in obtaining jobs in the growing industry.
To date, more than 400 students have enrolled in cannabis education courses at Oakton, and more than 100 credentials have been awarded.