THC Design is offering a unique spin on internship programs, with our nation’s veterans in mind. America’s some 21.8 million veterans commonly suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), opioid addiction and complications from pharmaceutical medications. Finding a workplace where they can be effective in their full capacity is often a daunting task.
The 12-week paid internship program covers the safe, sustainable and responsible cultivation of cannabis. The curriculum covers advanced cultivation practices that are backed by research and years of trial-and-error. THC Design co-founders Ryan Jennemann and Jairia Pass are devoted advocates for safe access to cannabis. Both were raised in the heart of Oklahoma.
Co-founder and Lead Consultant Jennemann oversees the program, and wanted to help out those who have served our nation. “We wanted to do something that was in line with our company’s values and mission to grow the safest, cleanest, organically grown medical grade cannabis,” Jennemann told CULTURE. “After talking it over, Jairia and I came to the conclusion we wanted do something with veterans in some way, shape or form. Except as we looked into existing programs to support, we couldn’t find one that was an exact for the company.”
The internship program is slowly gaining notoriety in the cannabis community. Jennemann says that the Veterans Advisory Board has been a tremendous help. “All and all, we’ve seen a very positive response from veterans groups, and many have even helped us spread word of the program.” Jenneman says that they received over 100 applications from candidates across the country and are now in the process of taking candidate applications for our winter semester in January.
Once veterans are done with the program, the skills and knowledge that they acquire makes them a potential asset to just about any cultivation company that values skilled workers. “Our program includes a 12-week paid course that teaches veterans how to organically grow cannabis using advanced cultivation practices, Oregon Organic Tilth agriculture standards and research-based approaches to sustainable farming, energy and water reclamation.” The veterans will work with the plant during every stage of its life cycle and by the end of the program, they will have the knowledge they need to cultivate the safe, clean, organic cannabis.
Many of the interns who do well in the program end up working for the company. “Our goal is to hire 40 more veterans through the program and our outreach efforts in the coming year,” Jennemann added.
Steven Passmore is participating in the THC Design Veteran Internship Program, and is experiencing the benefits firsthand. Passmore said that he wasn’t informed about cannabis and the surrounding culture until after serving in the military.
For veterans like Passmore, finding employment is harder than it should be. “I tried for a few years to crack into the industry, handing out résumés, and even offering to volunteer,” he said. “I believe, my military service comes with a stigma, ironically, as misunderstood and possibly even, feared as cannabis often is. I had given up on employment within the industry, and I sought to get a degree in Botany. I planned, and still do intend on, farming on my own one day. I heard from a friend at MVP that a cannabis company was accepting applications for a veteran internship. I applied, a bit skeptical, I admit. I spoke with Ophelia Chong, the Program Director and Ryan Jennemann, and the rest is history.”
Passmore is confident that there are more ways that cannabis can help veterans. With a renewed focus on CBD, the industry is blazing trails in new directions. “I do not believe we’ve even scratched the surface of the cannabis medical possibilities,” he said. “I recently finished “Smoke Signals” by Martin A. Lee, and there have been numerous scientific and medical studies that have conclusively found cannabis to be applicable in a wide spectrum of diseases and ailments — because the plant itself is so diverse.” Passmore is interested to see the impact of cannabis being explored further, particularly CBD.
Passmore says that he’s never felt like an intern at THC Design. He said he feels more like “a neighbor in a tightknit community, who gardens together.” To Passmore, the internship program provided a way for him to connect with society in ways that were previously unavailable.