The Sira.Community team recently met with job-seekers at the Somerville Community Corporation’s First Source Networking Café. Dwan Packnett, VP of Government Affairs and Community Investment, kicked off the 1-hour session, Introduction to the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry, with an overview of purpose and vision for Sira.Community. Dwan talked about how marijuana legalization in Massachusetts was a response to the disparate impact of the War on Drugs. As a local Massachusetts cannabis business, we have seen
this disparate impact in our communities and are working to help lower barriers to entry into the industry, so that everyone can have access to the economic opportunities it has to offer.
Sira.Community is Sira Naturals’ three-pronged initiative to expand employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the cannabis industry. First, we are reaching out to a broad range of community members-–including those who may have seen family and friends negatively impacted by the War and Drugs, leaving them feeling the need to keep their distance from the industry-–and introducing them to the industry at venues such as the First Source Networking Café.
The second prong of the initiative is focused on supporting workers by reducing barriers to getting jobs and doing everything we can to make Sira Naturals an industry-leader in creating great jobs. Dwan pointed to Sira Naturals’ partnership with CultivatED-–Massachusetts’ premier program to support those formerly incarcerated with jobs in the cannabis industry-–and the company’s voluntary unionization as actions that reflect this commitment.
The third important prong of the Sira.Community initiative is to work with cannabis entrepreneurs and do all we can to support Equity Empowerment entrepreneurs, focusing on minorities, women, veterans, and those who live in areas disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. Through Accelerator 2.0 we are providing a business curriculum, 1:1 mentorship, and access to Sira’s manufacturing and distribution networks for a new cohort of cannabis entrepreneurs.
The second part of the workshop focused on what makes the cannabis industry so promising in 2020. Roz Greenstein, who works on comprehensive economic and community development, identified two key features of the industry that foretell a bright future: it’s a growing industry, and there’s lots of room for product innovation.
Roz outlined why there’s every reason to believe cannabis product innovation will look more like the creativity we see in the tech-industries, rather than the slow-to-change products in the automotive industry. She pointed out that the legalization rollout in Massachusetts has been slow and methodical and the current process of Host Community Agreements means that we are in the early stages of adult-use retailing. This means that the Massachusetts industry has a long way to go before reaching market saturation. Beyond room for massive industry growth, is the huge potential for new cannabis uses and new cannabis products.
We had some time for Q & A from the workshop participants. It was great to see lively interest from the attendees in actual job opportunities in the industry. Sira Naturals’ Davis Square location is currently a Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD) and is seeking to co-locate an adult-use retailer. If our application to the City of Somerville is approved, we will be able to announce 35-40 job openings in our Davis Square facility. We can’t wait until the day we can invite First Source job-seekers to apply for those jobs.
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