Marijuana conviction in Maryland? Maybe there's a job for you

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland wants to help people once convicted of marijuana-related offenses land jobs in the state's legal cannabis industry.

Gov. Wes Moore announced the new workforce development program on Thursday. Last week, he signed an executive order pardoning people for more than 175,000 misdemeanor cannabis charges, affecting tens of thousands of individuals.

People interested in the new program will have the option of taking eight instructor-led, self-paced courses taught by industry experts, licensed operators and college professors. After completing 100 hours of virtual coursework, participants may enroll in a two-day, in-person course for 16 hours of hands-on occupational training. The in-person sessions will be offered once a month beginning in November at locations across the state, but none of the training will be be mandatory.

The Cannabis Workforce Development Program will be free to eligible applicants as Maryland seeks to reduce barriers to employment in the marijuana industry. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis starting July 1.

“Through this program, individuals adversely impacted by cannabis criminalization will be able to receive real-time, hands-on experience and access to job placement,” said Will Tilburg, director of the Maryland Cannabis Administration.

Maryland legalized recreational marijuana last year after voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in 2022. The state decriminalized possessing small amounts of cannabis on Jan. 1, 2023. In all, 24 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis.

“This groundbreaking collaboration will support Marylanders interested in joining the state’s growing cannabis industry and prioritize individuals and communities directly impacted by the War on Drugs,” Moore said in a statement.