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A new kind of job fair has just been born.  Aimed at bringing more diversity and inclusion to the cannabis industry while also addressing the pandemic labor shortage, the inaugural “Canna Get a Second Chance” career fair took place September 2 in Hawthorne, California, on L.A.’s south side. The event was a collaboration between two black-owned businesses, New Jersey-based career-placement firm and 40 Tons, a socially-conscious cannabis and streetwear brand based in L.A. 

We published this preview before the event. So we checked in with the organizers afterward to see how it went. They were ecstatic with the results. “It would have made you want to cry being there,” said Brandon Mitchell, founder and CEO of BrandResumes.

Loriel Alegrete of 40 Tons
Loriel Alegrete photo by Emily Eizen

“We started this career fair to bring more diversity and inclusion of BIPOC people into the industry,” said 40 Tons CEO Loriel Alegrete. “Our goal is to provide opportunities that have been typically unreachable in our inner cities.”

The career fair brought together over 200 job-seekers and hiring managers from 21 employers representing large MSOs, local dispensaries, numerous brands, a data security firm, and even a company that specializes in plumbing systems for cannabis businesses. Dozens of attendees received job offers on-site.

In addition to matchmaking employers and potential hires, the event featured an expungement clinic, a career readiness center, and a panel discussion with executives from industry heavyweights AHHS, Chiefing, and Lemonnade Antioch offering tips on how to break into the business. 

Event stats:

  • 21/21 – 100% vendor attendance
  • 25 people started the expungement process 
  • 365 total registrations 
  • 210 people showed up 
  • 40 people received help with resumes and profiles 
  • 13 Oaksterdam University scholarships awarded
  • 25 people received free headshots 
  • 50 people received at least one item of free clothing
  • 10 people received free haircuts 
  • Freedom Grow Forever got 95% of petitions signed 

Mitchell said the most popular feature of the event was the career readiness center, which provided resume writers and coaching for acing job interviews and creating compelling profiles on LinkedIn.

“There was a professional headshot station with a photographer shooting photos for people’s LinkedIn profiles. We even had haircuts there, and free clothes,” Mitchell said. 

The expungement clinic was also a success, said Anthony Alegrete, Director of Operations at 40 Tons, himself a Drug War veteran. Twenty five attendees took advantage of the opportunity to meet with volunteers from Minorities for Medical Marijuana and Project Clean Slate, to begin the process of clearing past cannabis convictions from their records.

Corvain Copper photo by Emily Eizen

Corvain Cooper, a former Drug War POW who now serves as Chief Brand Ambassador at 40 Tons, shared how moving the event was for him personally. “Just 9 months ago I was in prison for life over a nonviolent cannabis offense and now I get to help other people get jobs in an industry that 40,000 people are still incarcerated over. It has come full circle and is a blessing I get to help people now.”

Following the success of this inaugural event, 40 Tons and BrandResumes are taking their cannabis hiring fairs on tour. Throughout 2022 they’re planning four more events — including two in the Los Angeles area (February 10 and TBD), one in Oakland (March 10), and one in New Jersey (June 9). Stay tuned for further updates.