BMCC Named Lead CUNY College for Cannabis Workforce and Business Development Program

August 24, 2022

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) and partner Lehman College/CUNY will receive $2 million in New York State funding over three years to support the creation and enhancement of short-term credential programs and courses meant to provide pathways to employment in the growing cannabis industry .

The purpose of the BMCC and Lehman College Cannabis Workforce and Business Development Program is to train individuals to obtain a license for a cannabis-related business and to set up and manage that business, as well as complete training for customer service, harvester, cultivator and security jobs. The New York State Department of Labor anticipates thousands of new jobs in the cannabis industry to be created in the next few years.

BMCC will serve as the lead CUNY campus for the program, which will also include partnerships with local cannabis-sector employers who will provide input on curriculum development. The program will be offered through the BMCC Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development. College administrators are also working with BMCC Health Education Department faculty to develop degree-eligible courses. Academic credits from those courses will transfer to Lehman College.

The BMCC grant is part of a three-year, $5 million funding package awarded to four community colleges from both the CUNY and SUNY systems.

As New York state gets set to launch adult-use licensed cannabis retailers later this year, Governor Kathy Hochul says the funding initiative will help meet industry demand for a skilled and diverse cannabis industry workforce.

“Diversity and inclusion are what makes New York’s workforce a competitive, powerful asset, and we will continue to take concrete steps to help ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate in the cannabis industry,” Gov. Hochul said in a release.

“CUNY is proud to be creating innovative programs that position our students to leverage the opportunities presented by the nascent cannabis industry,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “This initiative advances several of CUNY’s key priorities in its focus on workforce development — including non-degree workforce training — with an emphasis on equity and inclusion. We thank Governor Hochul for her sustained leadership and for continuing to open new employment pathways to CUNY students and New Yorkers.”

“BMCC is honored to be selected as the lead institution at CUNY in this exciting program that will provide pathways to success in New York’s emerging cannabis industry,” said BMCC President Anthony E. Munroe. “We are thankful for Governor Hochul’s commitment to equity and inclusion in what is projected to be a multi-billion-dollar industry that will generate thousands of new jobs in New York state. BMCC is thrilled to be able to offer our students the skills training and knowledge to access a direct path into this fast-growing sector.”

In March 2021, New York State passed the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) legalizing adult-use cannabis. The MRTA incentivizes participation in the new industry for individuals disproportionally impacted by cannabis prohibition, automatically expunges an individual’s past marijuana convictions, and invests 40% of the adult-use cannabis tax revenue toward rebuilding communities harmed by the War on Drugs. Another MRTA goal is to award 50% of all adult-use licenses to social and economic equity applicants.

A 2019 Rockefeller Institute of Government (SUNY) analysis found that a $1.7 billion cannabis industry could generate a total economic output of $4.1 billion and and attract hundreds of millions of dollars more in capital investment.

BMCC and Lehman College will develop a cannabis workforce and business development training program for all those interested but more specifically, for justice-involved people planning to take advantage of the social equity licenses. In addition to courses in cannabis production skills, the BMCC/Lehman program will assist legacy entrepreneurs and other start-ups as they navigate the complexities of applying for business licenses and certifications.

Lack of training and skills, as well as insufficient awareness of career opportunities, are two of the largest obstacles to achieving social equity in the adult-use market, according to a national survey developed and distributed by the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations New York State Cannabis Workforce Initiative.

“This funding will ensure that SUNY and CUNY can create new or enhance existing programs that target employment within the cannabis industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado in a release.

Lehman College President Fernando Delgado said, “Lehman is pleased to play a role in assisting entrepreneurs to obtain licenses to operate small businesses in the new emerging cannabis sector. Bronx residents, particularly social equity applicants, can take advantage of loans and services through the services provided by this new grant.”

Anthony Watson, Acting Dean of the BMCC Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development, and Executive Director, SUNY New York Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center (MEOC) said, “This is an amazing time to leverage this great opportunity to provide cutting-edge programing in an area which is getting national attention in Cannabis. We are excited to be working with Lehman to launch this program and I look forward to providing industry training. We thank CUNY and DOL for this opportunity to develop and expand this work in Cannabis.”

Dean Jane MacKillop, School of Continuing and Professional Studies said, “Partnering with BMCC is an honor and a pleasure. We look forward to three years of productive cooperation, collaboration and synergy as we meet the training, employment and business needs of this emerging sector together.”


  • BMCC and partner Lehman College to receive $2 million NYS grant for program
  • BMCC Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development will oversee program
  • Program will train individuals to obtain license, business management skills and various jobs within cannabis industry

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