The Cal Poly National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) held its first meeting Nov. 7, kicking off its plan for educating students about various aspects of marijuana and encouraging students to pursue careers in the rapidly growing cannabis industry.
“We wanted to start this club because we know there’s a passion for cannabis out there in a lot of people, and we wanted to bring everyone together in a space that people can connect and make things happen in this industry,” NORML President and agricultural and environmental plant sciences junior Matt Slaymaker said.
With cannabis’s new legal status in California and recreational sales set to begin in less than two months, Cal Poly NORML’s primary goal is to educate students about the cannabis industry and the professional skills jobs in the industry require, while providing a networking platform for students who want a career in cannabis.
“There’s a place for everyone in this industry,” Slaymaker said. “People just think of the farming and the business side but there’s so much out there for chemistry, extraction, manufacturing, marketing and anything you can think of.”
The officers of NORML are no strangers to the industry. Industry Advisor and computer science senior Nico Pitchon is clearly a man of initiative — he has personal stakes in cannabis, unaffiliated with his work as a student at Cal Poly.
“I own a delivery service that operates here in [San Luis Obispo] County, and a cultivation greenhouse off the highway,” Pitchon said. “I’ve also thrown two Cannabis Cups in the county, over by Avila Beach.”
Equipped with this knowledge of the cannabis market, Cal Poly NORML’s first step is to introduce industry jobs to students, which the first club events aim to do.
“We want to make a career fair; that’s our biggest thing in order to provide resources to those who want to get into the industry,” Slaymaker said.
Advocating for changing marijuana laws is no longer an active goal for Cal Poly NORML, which differentiates the group from the national organization of which they are an affiliate.
“That’s kind of all been dealt with already [in California],” Slaymaker said. “Laws are changing, things are happening and the big organizations are doing that.”
However, the NORML officers know that entering into and succeeding in the cannabis industry won’t come easy just because recreational marijuana is now legal in California. As they pointed out, hurdles such as legal restrictions at the state and local levels make it difficult.
“The amount of hoops you need to jump through is still big,” Pitchon said “There’s still a negative stigma associated with cannabis as well, in your daily interactions within the industry.”
NORML has no events scheduled yet, but plans to meet at least once a quarter and are working towards scheduling guest speaker panels, seminars, club trips and the Cannabis Career Fair.
“We want to create recognition that this industry is imminent and that every single major at Cal Poly has a position available in industry,” NORML Vice President and agricultural business senior Will Hare said. “There’s so much potential. The numbers don’t lie with Colorado and Washington, and Cal Poly needed something to place everyone in the industry.”