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URC partners with Cleveland School for Cannabis Education | News, Sports, Jobs


YOUNGSTOWN – United Returning Citizens in Youngstown has partnered with the Cleveland School of Cannabis to provide education for returning citizens to enter the cannabis industry.

The Independence-based school, now in its fifth year, offers a variety of programs, ranging from courses in horticulture, extraction and cannabis dispensary, as well as courses in CBD and hemp. There is also help with placement at the end.

URC has its second cohort of students enrolled following a pilot enrollment with one person. It was done this way to determine if the school and URC would be a good fit, said the Youngstown-based agency’s executive director, Dionne Dowdy-Lacey.

It was, she said, and now the URC has four people enrolled in the school.

“We’re just trying to put a system in place where they could win in this space,” said Dowdy-Lacey.

Originally designed exclusively to help individuals reintegrate into society after incarceration, many URC programs now serve the greater Mahoning Valley community, from entrepreneurial orientation to programs that empower women to URC Grows, a agriculture-based education and employment that provides education, employment, and social justice for those incarcerated on marijuana-related charges.

The program serves as an entry point for entrepreneurs and professionals in the cannabis industry.

What Dowdy-Lacey said she discovered while talking to the people her agency serves was that they smoked marijuana to ease issues with anxiety, anger, or stress.

“So I was like, it would be cool if they could learn how to farm and know what they’re growing, what they’re consuming,” said Dowdy-Lacey. “It’s like food, you have to know what’s going on in your body.”

There was also an economic factor – that companies were making millions in the cannabis industry.

It was a chance to change the narrative, she said, and educate people who have been incarcerated for distributing marijuana or growing it professionally at home. “so they can be in this space and do what they love to do in a legal sense.”

The agency also helps with expungements and pardons, further allowing people to work in the cannabis industry.

Kevin Greene is the vice president of the Cleveland School of Cannabis.

“Our goal is the education of the workforce for the cannabis industry”, said Greene. “Our goal is to educate the general person, the cannabis lover on technical cannabis knowledge in the main areas.”

So far, the school, one of three in the United States to be state-certified, has graduated more than 750 students.

The courses, including one in medical application, more focused on research, last 150 hours. The school also has an executive program that contains a combination of core classes across the various courses, Greene said. It’s 300 hours.

Students can be full-time or part-time, and the school has a career guidance service that works directly with employers for job placement. Some internships are also available.

URC applied for and received a grant from The Hawthorne Collective, a subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro Company that focuses on minority investments in areas of the cannabis industry.

The three-year grant was $200,000, Dowdy-Lacey said. It costs nearly $15,000 per student for URC, she said.



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