Writing. Reading. History. Math. Cannabis Marketing. Online courses and even entire curricula are popping up across the United States, with the ultimate goal of educating entrepreneurs on the effects of the cannabis industry and how to work within the legal confines of a federally illicit business model.
There are essentially four ways that accredited institutions and online entities are spreading cannabis education: single classes, courses, certification programs, and full-time degree programs.
UC Davis created a “Physiology of Cannabis” class back in 2017. After rave reviews, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is back with a Seed Biotechnology Center and a handful of classes for spring 2020. Within this Seed Biotechnology Center are seven in-depth courses, tailored to everything from seed business to hemp breeding. These classes range from two days to five days and are not all in Davis, CA.
The upcoming class is “Seed Production”, which is taught from February 10-13, 2020, in Davis. This class focuses on biological, genetic, agronomic, and technological processes involved in the production and processing of seeds. Peak harvesting conditions, proper storage, and seed technology topics are also discussed.
On June 16-18, 2020, “Seed Biology and Quality” is taught in Davis; this class informs students on the technical protocol for “assessing, enhancing, and maintaining high seed quality.”
“Seed Business 101” is taught in two sections: one in St. Charles, IL from August 17-21, 2020, and one in Davis from December 7-11, 2020. This course focuses primarily on a broader understanding of running a seed company and explains the most profitable ways to go about it.
On October 27 and 28, 2020, in Davis, “Hemp Breeding” covers seed production, flowering, pollination, harvesting, and certification, as well as hemp genetics, breeding schemes, and intellectual property protection.
Two additional classes, “Breeding with Genomics” and “Program Management for Plant Breeders,” have yet to release 2020 class dates.
For those interested in the legal side of the cannabis industry, Ohio State University has a law course called, “Cannabiz: Exploring the ‘Legalized’ Cannabis Industry.” This will be an examination of the risks associated with entrepreneurial businesses in niche industries and how to watch for potentially dangerous business fluctuations.
Also housed in the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law is a seminar called “Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform.” This course takes into account the social and historical events that lead to intoxicant prohibition while assessing the legal reforms and debates related to the regulations of marijuana use. Ohio State undergraduate degrees do not include any classes related to marijuana.
Housed in the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law is L4416, “Representing the Marijuana Client.” This course is a deep dive into the legal environment, both state-specific and federally, surrounding the marijuana business. Some topics to look forward to are legal ethics, regulatory compliance, criminal law enforcement, and the financial and tax aspects of running a marijuana business.
Sturm College of Law’s course 47xx, “Marijuana Regulatory Drafting & Policy” teaches law students about policy issues and how to develop and draft regulations. As with Ohio State, there are no undergraduate cannabis-related course options, but the University of Denver has been doing intriguing research on the effects of cannabis on the brain, as well as the intertwining of cannabis and pregnancy.
The College of Southern Nevada, in Las Vegas, introduced three new undergraduate courses for budding entrepreneurs, dispensary workers, and others who want to become well-versed in the industry. The three classes are, “Cannabis 101,” which focuses on the industry’s history, “Dispensary Customer Service,” which is geared toward those selling cannabis products, and “Green Collar Jobs,” which entails industry regulations and business operations. There isn’t a full degree path through CSN but completing one of the three courses earns a certificate.
UNLV’s Cannabis U, created with help from the Seattle, Washington-based Academy of Cannabis Science, is comprised of three online courses that students are suggested to complete at their own pace. The curriculum is set to open on January 27, 2020. The online courses have no credit value, which allows freedom for cannabis entrepreneurs to educate themselves while focusing on other ventures. Each of the three courses cost only $99 and students are required to be at least 21.
Cannabis Professional, the core class, ensures that students fully grasp how to work in the industry; the course discusses the science and research behind cannabis folklore, society’s connotation of cannabis, and how those sociological aspects affect business cultivation. The other two classes, “Pets and Cannabis” and “Cannabis and the Opioid Epidemic,” are being registered for by Nevadans, but also by interested students as far away as Hawaii, India, and South Africa.
If online courses are preferred, Cannabis Training University and THC University are the way to go. Cannabis Training University allows students to work toward a Master Certificate or singularly complete classes. The certification involves selecting seven courses, a breakdown of 200 marijuana videos and 5,000 pages of cannabis e-books and passing an exam. Earning higher than 80 percent will produce a personalized certificate. Potential classes include “Marijuana Jobs: How to be a Bud Tender”, “How to Open a Dispensary & Delivery Service”, “How to Write a Cannabis Resume”, “How to Get a Cannabis Job”, “How to Write a Business Plan for the Cannabis Industry”, “Start Your Own Marijuana Business”, and many others, which are all included with the complete Medical Marijuana Master Certification Program. The cost for the entire program is $497, but the price has been temporarily dropped to $247.
THC University operates similarly online, but instead of one overarching certification, there are nine certificates available. They include Introduction to CBD; Terpenes: The Healing Link between Essential Oils and Cannabis; Budtender Basics; Marijuana 101; Grow Basics; Horticulture Specialist; Cannabis Business; Colorado Safety and Regulations; and Washington Safety and Regulations. Unlimited access to all the course material is $187, and completion of all courses takes 3-6 months.
Certified THCU graduates must have received at least 90 percent on each of the final exams, and reap benefits such as access to job boards, resume help, and networking. In addition, there are special rates for team training.
If you’re getting into the cannabis industry and want a full-fledged education, only two schools in the United States currently award related degree paths.
Northern Michigan University unveiled a Bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry. The first of its kind in the country, this 120-credit program relies heavily on laboratory research and chemistry. Course curricula are broken into chemistry, biology, math, and EEGS. By sophomore year, an emphasis has to be chosen; students either focus on the entrepreneurial or the bio-analytical track.
Minot State, in Minot, ND, also offers a Medicinal Plant Chemistry Bachelor’s program. The “Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Chemistry, Option III: Medicinal Plant” degree is a mouthful, but program graduates are exactly what the growing cannabis industry needs. Graduates take chemistry and biology classes primarily but are also required to take courses in economics, calculus, statistics, and physics, as well as two “Plant Products” seminars. 13-16 credits are dedicated to various minors and concentrations, for a grand total of 107-109 credit hours.
All over the country, there are educational opportunities. Whether it’s best to enroll in a single class, a group of courses, a certification program, or an entire degree path is a purely personal decision and should not be taken lightly. In a constantly changing industry like cannabis, it’s best to stay on top of the trends, and what better way than simultaneously getting credit and certifications?