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As cannabis legalization comes to fruition in successive states, mechanisms are set up to credential and educate people who work, or are looking to work, in the industry. Most of these are private operations, and these days they are frequently virtual as well. However in Illinois, the premier institution supporting cannabis industry education decidedly takes an old‑school approach to what is arguably an age-old substance: person-to-person.

The Illinois Cannabis Training Center — ICTC — was established at the time the state fully legalized cannabis in 2009. As the vision of entrepreneur Lamar Richardson, Air Force veteran and O’Hare’s first Black air traffic controller, it is a state-approved Responsible Vendor Training Organization that will shortly receive not-for-profit status.

And while ICTC has a full complement of training and coaching activities, it stands out for its emphasis on networking events. Typically, cannabis meet-and-greets are organized as for‑profit sessions with a participant entry fee. ICTC is known for its steady stream of no-fee in‑person events that have been remarkably successful at bringing experienced cannabis executives, industry newcomers and job-seekers all together into the same room. While COVIID-19 has caused them to shift certain activities, such as certification training, online for now, their networking events continue to held in person (responsibly, of course) for which they believe there is no substitute.

Also definitely held in person is their unique Mock Dispensary Bootcamp, which takes place in their true-to-life immersive environment, created by real dispensary personnel and furnished with actual industry equipment and software such as BiotrackTHC. This facility is used to teach job seekers industry best practices … help them learn the lingo that will impress hiring managers … and also provide continuing education to current operators looking for tools and strategies to improve their businesses.

Cannabis professionals who are Bootcamp graduates also have a wide variety of resources available to them. They can take advantage of monthly webinars and question‑and‑answer sessions with industry personnel to grow their knowledge. They can receive both personal and group coaching from the ICTC staff and from their peers. And they can help themselves to a full range of aids for job-seekers, from resume assistance to database access. Organizations such as ICTC are ready and willing to assist all kinds of non-touching cannabis professionals as well, from insurance specialists to marketing consultants to application developers. Check your own state to see what options are open to you.