Colleges of Cannabis: U.S. Universities Are Adding Courses To Teach Students to Work In Weed

Photo by Wesley Gibbs on Unsplash

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing business sectors in the United States. Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized it for recreational use, while another 30 have put medical marijuana programs on the books. Some of the latest data shows that the cultivation and sale of the cannabis plant and its various derivatives is already a multi-billion dollar market, with some predictions placing it at more than $146 billion by 2025. So, there are plenty of opportunities for eager young beavers to get in on the ground floor of this budding profession. And while there is no shortage of go-getters out there wanting to work in weed, most of them are less than qualified, according to some business experts. This is just one of the reasons that colleges and universities all across the country are now offering a variety of cannabis courses and certificate programs.

The latest trend on the collegiate scene is classes designed to prepare the average student for becoming a green thumb God for the cannabis trade. Many reputable institutions of higher learning are now training the next generation of cannabis farmers and those interested in the working on the business side.

Here are a few course that people can enroll in right now that might be worth checking out:

Northern Michigan University: The school has offered a major in medicinal plant chemistry for the past two years. There are more than 200 students presently enrolled in the program, which is headed up by the university’s chemistry department. Graduates with this particular academic major could go on to be an integral part in the laboratory testing that states require to ensure marijuana products meet specific safety standards prior to distribution. “There was a need for additional trained scientists interested in this sort of field who have a good background in botany and analytical chemistry,” Mark Paulsen, the head of the school’s chemistry department, told Market Watch.

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Stockton University: This New Jersey school began offering an interdisciplinary minor in cannabis studies just this year. There are five courses available (two required) ranging from medical marijuana to cannabis law. So far, the law course has attracted 15 students that  have made cannabis studies their minor. Graduates could go on to work with small cannabis businesses and even real estate firms. The school is now considering the development of a certificate program for members of the community interested in gaining more knowledge in the arena of cannabis.

University of California-Davis: The school offers physiology and neurobiology students a graduate course on cannabis and its “impact on people.” The classes delve into the therapeutic benefits and the risks associated with weed. Some but not all of the students interested in this course are driven to join the marijuana industry. Most are planning to attend medical school where a background in cannabis medicine is advantageous. Students in this area of expertise could go on to work in medical marijuana research.

Southern Illinois University: The Carbondale-based school is establishing various courses to help people work in the cannabis trade. SUI’s colleges of science and agricultural science will allow students to study plant biology, engineering, business and ecology, according to a recent report from the Chicago Tribune. The program is being implemented to give the local agricultural industry a leg up when it comes to the cultivation of cannabis and hemp. “We’re getting this request and input from stakeholders, who are reaching out to us, telling us they need the science,” said Karen Midden, interim dean of agricultural sciences. “But we’re also getting it from students — current and potential students — that they would like to have programs to prepare them for work in these areas.”

University of Connecticut: The school is now offering students an undergraduate course on cannabis cultivation. The new class, which is aptly named “Horticulture of Cannabis: From Seed to Harvest,” is expected to attract around 100 students. People walking away from this area of study will have a solid understanding of how to grow marijuana in today’s legal climate. “UConn will be providing students with an opportunity to be absolutely at the cutting edge of a growing field,” said UConn Professor and plant scientist Gerard Berkowitz. “Companies hiring people who learned in their basement will have an opportunity to hire people who were educated based on a curriculum that’s founded in hard science.”

There is no doubt that times have changed. We remember when college was where some people went to experience smoking marijuana for the first time. Now students are headed there to learn how to cultivate and sell the stuff. Considering that master growers are earning in upwards of $93,000 a year, perhaps becoming a weed farmer is not be a bad idea. Just don’t get high on your own supply. A recent article from Forbes shows that American cannabis firms are turning away job applicants who use marijuana.


Mike Adams is a freelance writer for High Times, Cannabis Now, and Forbes. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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