The cannabis plant continues to go through a transitional phase as it becomes legalized and decriminalized throughout the U.S. and world. The business of cannabis has turned into a booming, multibillion dollar industry over the past several years. In the U.S. during 2020, cannabis sales reached an all-time high of over $18 billion; a 71% increase, from the previous year. As this industry continues to grow, so will employment opportunities and people looking to cash in on this plant.
To create equitable opportunities for people looking to get a foot in the door, 40 Tons has teamed up with BrandResumes to launch the career platform Cannabis Hiring Fairs. Bringing restorative justice to the forefront of the cannabis workforce is the goal of this collaboration between these two entrepreneurial forces. The war on drugs has disproportionately affected Black, Brown, and minority communities. An in-depth report done by the ACLU found that Black people are almost 4 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession compared to their white counterparts.Cannabis Hiring Fairs is looking to level the playing field for those impacted by past cannabis convictions. They want to help people find a job in the cannabis industry. The platform is designed to advertise all types of jobs available at cannabis companies, not only plant touching, but ancillary ones as well.
“The Black female is the most underrepresented demographic in the cannabis space,” says Loriel Alegrete, CEO and founder of 40Tons. “I felt it was my duty to bridge that gap and bring more BIPOC communities and people that look like me into the space.” Cannabis Hiring Fairs isn’t stopping at the job search, though. They also set up in-person career events, help with record expungements, and even provide assistance with building quality resumes - all at no cost to job seekers. The focus is always on restorative justice, but they are also looking to help anyone wanting to find a job in the industry.
The creation of Cannabis Hiring Fairs was a collective effort by Anthony Alegrete of 40 Tons and Brandon Mitchell of BrandResumes.The 40 Tons brand formed out of the belief that no one should spend a life sentence behind bars for a plant. This mission comes from a very personal place.
Anthony and his friend, Corvain Cooper, were both arrested in the 40 Tons Conspiracy in 2013. While Anthony was eventually released from prison, Corvain would be sentenced to life, despite both mens convictions being for nonviolent offenses. In response to the need for cannabis advocacy in the miscarriage of justice, Loriel Alegrete went about founding 40 Tons in an effort to bring about tangible change in this case. Despite Corvain being in prison, his ideas were instrumental in the initial conversations and efforts around starting the brand. In January of 2021, Corvain Cooper was granted executive clemency and finally released from federal prison and currently serves as the Chief Brand Ambassador for 40 Tons (read the full story here).
With the help of Project Mission Green and other cannabis advocacy groups, the 40 Tons team was successful in restoring Corvain’s freedom, but knew their mission was only beginning. “I felt it was important to continue to give back even after getting my life back,” says Corvain. “God has blessed me and I must pay it forward.” For the brand, it’s about providing mentorship to people who have taken accountability for their past actions and have that drive and desire to keep moving forward in a positive direction. Breaking the cycle of repeat offenders by offering resources, advocacy, and assistance programs is part of their quest for restorative justice.There are three main cornerstones of their brand that are always top priority. A focus on cannabis advocacy, creating a platform for cannabis job seekers, and creating a cannabis brand with products of exceptional quality. “We’re like the Kobe Bryant of what we’re doing [with our brand],” says Anthony, operations director and co-founder of 40 Tons. “But right now we’re like rookie Kobe Bryant, and we just need to find the right people to support and invest in us.”
Making the cannabis employment platform a reality was a tangible way to bring restorative justice to communities most impacted by the war on drugs. After hearing Brandon be interviewed on the Earn Your Leisure podcast (Ep. 59) about founding his own company, Anthony knew he was the right person to help bring this vision to life.
Using the power of social media, Anthony was able to connect with Brandon and his roommate, William Sims, who is the CEO of The The Freedom Unit. His background in changing the dynamic around underrepresented communities through business, technology, and with careers was a key component in getting this dialogue started.
The idea and the why behind Cannabis Hiring Fairs that Anthony presented to Brandon & William struck a chord. Growing up in New York, Brandon saw firsthand how marijuana laws had an immense and direct impact within his own community. For a brief period, his older brother served time behind bars for growing some cannabis plants in their backyard. So this approach to restorative justice hit home for Brandon.
“The stats on prisoners who come out of prison and go back in because of not being able to land employment are outrageous, and people are being locked up again because of the plant,” he says. Using his skills and expertise as a professional resume writer and career coach allows Brandon to bring tactile value to cannabis job seekers. Creating a space in the cannabis industry for the greater good centered around restorative justice was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
By partnering with a variety of vendors for the job fair, services such as record expungements with help from
Minorities from Medical Marijuana ere accessible. Help with building resumes was available and Oaksterdam University awarded scholarships to some of the attendees. MJ Brand Insights wrote a great feature article about the event’s success and major highlights for job seekers. This career fair was the first step to much bigger things to come from the collaboration of these two Black-owned businesses. They want to keep finding effective ways to be vehicles that will help solve economic displacement in their communities.
“Getting 100 cannabis companies to put their vacant positions on our platform” is a short-term goal, says Brandon of the future for Cannabis Hiring Fairs. As a response to the positive outcome of their first career fair, they will be taking the event on the road to different cities in California and New Jersey starting in February of 2022. The ultimate mission is creating a nationwide network for cannabis job seekers, while focusing on and giving back to the communities that need it most.
CANNABIS CAREER CONFERENCE SUCCESS “To think that over a year ago, I was in prison serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole over