Sammie Rogers has been growing cannabis in California since 2010.

When he saw that the industry was dominated by rich white men, he was inspired to take the lead and do something to diversify the industry.

He started Higher Learning Institutions in Pontiac, Michigan, a school dedicated to teaching the emerging workforce about the marijuana industry.

“I took a quick seminar at a pretty known school in California,” he told Now This. “I had someone register for the class for me, and I just took it, just to see what it was about and from there was like, ‘hell, I can do this.’”

Higher Learning Institutions aims to provide training opportunities to low-income individuals who would otherwise have no access to these positions, a statement reads on the school’s website.

The first round of classes begin in March and will train students to work in medical marijuana provisioning centers, according to Rogers.

Recently, Rogers received a $100,000 business accelerator grant from the Minority Cannabis Business Association, which was used to lease space and build out the school.

Rogers said he plans to add courses that will cover how to grow, cultivate, extract marijuana, as well as courses on patient care in medical marijuana dispensaries.

Photo courtesy of LinkedIn

“I’m getting emails from California to Tennessee, to Ireland asking us for online courses, so eventually we will roll this out,” said Rogers. “It would be the same as the classes we offer here, but something in the $120 to $150 range to get you the knowledge and have you tested.”

Rogers said the school’s mission is to educate the unemployed and underemployed individuals within the cities that they serve, providing job-specific training that will elevate lower-income individuals and provide the opportunity to find gainful employment in the cannabis industry.

Another goal for Rogers is including more women in the industry.

“Whenever I say that people look at me like I’m crazy […] they’re the nation’s first educators,” he stated. “You look in schools today and a majority of our teachers are women. I want representation. That’s my goal.”