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Growing Representation: Robinson and Okoro’s Cannabis Academy Aims to Bring Opportunity to Minority Communities

There are a number of ways to measure how much opportunity the recreational cannabis market might contain in New Jersey.

Brendon Robinson starts with the first month’s figures: the ballpark $24 million in sales. He sees potential for it to only be a taste of what’s to come in the local adult-use market.

Then, there’s the expansive workforce that growth will lend itself to. That’s the part Robinson is really focused on. More individuals will need to be trained for the sector’s work in New Jersey; he and longtime friend and business partner Stanley Okoro are trying to be a big part of that.

But Robinson passionately articulates that all that talk of opportunity — all the revenue and all the jobs — is not as meaningful if it’s not being enjoyed by all Jerseyans.

“And, right now, if you go into these dispensaries, you just don’t see representation the way there should be representation,” Robinson said.

Robinson and Okoro co-founded the nonprofit Minority Cannabis Academy to try to infuse the state’s market with that sort of representation. Their long-term goal is to churn out a diverse labor force for the growing New Jersey cannabis market by providing free training to minorities and the disenfranchised communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.

Okoro wanted to get involved in the cannabis sector as soon as Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2017 election win, but it wasn’t until Robinson lost his job at a bank as a result of COVID-19 cutbacks three years later that the pair actually launched a company together, called 420 NJ Events.

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