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Eastern to announce new cannabis certification at Connecticut's first cannabis academic research conference

Published on October 20, 2022

Eastern to announce new cannabis certification at Connecticut's first cannabis academic research conference

 cannabis certification logo

Eastern Connecticut State University will announce a certification for environmentally sustainable cannabis businesses at the inaugural New England Cannabis Research and Education Conference (NECREC) on Oct. 21-22. The New England Sustainable Cannabis Certification (NESCC) will recognize cannabis businesses that meet standards of continuous improvement of their environmental and social impacts and are models of long-term sustainability for other cannabis businesses and their communities.

The certification will be unveiled Saturday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m. in the Carter Science Building, room 134, during a panel titled "Sustainable Cannabis Cultivation." The panel will feature Ryan Vassar, owner of Mr. Nice Guy Cannabis Cultivation and Garden Supply Store; Bryan Connolly, a plant biologist and founder of Eastern's Cannabis Cultivation and Chemistry minor; Patty Szczys, interim director of Eastern's Institute for Sustainability; and Blake Costa of Sweetspot Farms, a Rhode Island cannabis farm.

"As Connecticut moves toward recreational cannabis sales, the Institute for Sustainability is excited to partner with cannabis businesses to bring sustainable practices to the forefront," said Szczys. "We know consumers value a commitment to the environment, diverse and equitable communities, and to fighting climate change. This certification highlights cannabis businesses of all types committed to these principles."

Businesses can take an informal pledge that they are working toward sustainability or submit for a formal evaluation and certification from the Institute for Sustainability. Some factors included in the sustainable certification include reducing solid waste, energy use and water consumption, buying locally and even measuring the well-being of a business' employees. This evaluation comes with a public recognition of that business' open commitment to caring for the environment.

"With the effects of climate change becoming ever more apparent, sustainability needs to touch every aspect of our lives," said Connolly. "The cannabis industry is a good platform to discuss sustainability as cannabis growers and the industry, in general, are a group of people who are open and willing to participate in environmentally responsible programs."

NECREC aims to create a learning space where students, educators and members of the cannabis industry in New England can gather to share information in the emerging field of cannabis studies. The theme of the first conference is "Growing Plants; Helping People."

The conference will kick off Friday, Oct. 21, with a plenary address by University of Connecticut Plant Science Professor Gerald Berkowitz in the Student Center Theater. On Oct. 22, Jason White, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, will give the lunch address at noon in Eastern's Science Building 104.

During the full day of panel discussions on Oct. 22, conference attendees will hear from academic, law, medical, environmental and business experts about various aspects of the cannabis industry. Between panel sessions, conference attendees can take a tour of Eastern's cannabis greenhouse and browse the Exhibitor Hall in the main lobby of the Science Building to learn about area cannabis-related businesses.

NECREC is sponsored by Mr. Nice Guy Cannabis Cultivation and Garden Supply Store; The Botanist; ECSU Foundation, Inc.; SweetHeal; Higher Health; The Willimantic Food Co-Op; Leading Edge Construction; and GrowSpan.

Registration for the conference is still open, and the public is welcome. Businesses may become exhibitors or sponsors. The conference is free to all university students. Registration fees to attend the conference are $50 for academics and the general public, $200 for businesses in the Exhibitor Hall and free for university students. Businesses may also purchase sponsorships.

Written by Amanda Irwin and Michael Rouleau

Categories: Sustainability, Biology