Lessons in the weed: is attending a cannabis university worth it?



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An illicit cannabis industry has been working underground for decades, but the emergence of legal states and subsequent markets has created demand for hundreds of thousands of jobs. According to one estimate from financial firm Barclay’s, if cannabis were legalized nationwide today and taxed at the same rate as tobacco it would have a market worth of $28 billion, reaching $41 billion by 2028. 

Cannabis industry and accounting firm Adnant Consulting estimates that the industry has created 50,000—100,000 jobs per legal state on the retail side alone. But there’s a lot more to legal weed than budtending; think farming, accounting, logistics, customer service and managing. 

To help meet the demand for workers in an industry requiring a broad range of skills, colleges like Northern Michigan University and Minot State University, as well as cannabis-only programs like Oaksterdam University are working to educate people wanting to make a career of cannabis.  

Cannabis and university programs

For students looking to work in the cultivation, research and extraction side of the industry, the aforementioned Northern Michigan University and Minot State University offer “medicinal plant chemistry” undergraduate degrees. 

Other schools, such as Colorado State University Pueblo, SUNY Morrisville, and Stockton University offer cannabis-centered minors. One college, The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy offers a postgraduate degree, the Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics Programs masters. 

Cannabis training universities

There are several schools operating in this space, with a mix of in-person and online course offerings. While these programs offer course certificates, these are not degrees or credits that could be applied to training at other educational establishments. 

The most well-known cannabis university is Oakland, California-based Oaksterdam University, which opened in 2007. Though Oaksterdam has the highest tuition price tag, it appears to be the only university with an actual campus and in-person learning options (that for the time-being have moved to remote learning formats due to COVID-19). 

Here are some other training programs with varying course offerings and price points to consider: 

Whether or not a marijuana-centric degree or certification is needed to get a good job in the industry is up for debate. Some prognosticators say that the industry’s outsized growth simply needs workers to fill a lot of open positions. Others believe that a certification or degree may offer an advantage over candidates who don’t have them. 

Before signing up for any program, one thing to keep in mind with any online training generally is that they are for-profit ventures. So be sure to do your research on the programs before investing any of your hard-earned cash. 

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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