Fifteen years ago, cannabis was a great way to get kicked OUT of college. Fast-forward a decade-and-a-half, and majoring in marijuana is no longer a joke. Trade-schools and universities are beginning to offer courses, certificates, and entire degree programs dedicated to cannabis. With more and more cannabis jobs becoming available, the need for educated professionals is higher than ever.
Right now, there are more than 211,000 full-time jobs in the cannabis industry; 64,000 of those jobs were added in 2018. At the beginning of last year, there were 90 cannabis jobs in Pennsylvania. In the last year, Pennsylvania’s budding medical marijuana program created nearly 3,900 jobs. That’s an increase of 4,208-percent. These numbers are expected to grow as more states adopt medical and recreational marijuana programs.
Whether you’re already a student looking to specialize in cannabis, interested in breaking into the cannabis industry, or simply tired of turning to Google for unreliable research, cannabis education is fully an option.
Degrees and Certificates
Individuals who are looking for an extensive education have the chance to earn undergraduate and graduate-level degrees that specialize in cannabis. Below are the schools that offer such degrees.
Thomas Jefferson University
Thomas Jefferson University recently opened The Lambert Center of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at The Institute of Emerging Health Professionals. The Lambert Center offers graduate certificates in Cannabis Medicine, Cannabinoid Pharmacology, and Cannabinoid Chemistry and Toxicology. TJU is the first graduate school with a world-renowned medical school to offer programs focused on medicinal cannabis and hemp.
Thomas Jefferson University has recruited an internationally-renowned steering committee of physicians, researchers, chemists, and professors to lead The Lambert Center’s academic programs. This team of experts aims to advanced the science, research, educational opportunities, and patient experience associated with medical marijuana therapy.
There are three programs offered through Thomas Jefferson University at The Lambert Center. Cannabis Medicine and Cannabinoid Pharmacology are both available online. Cannabis Chemistry and Toxicology is a hybrid of online courses and in-person labs. Each program takes between one and two years to complete. Any student who completes two of these three programs, and a capstone, will receive the nation’s only Master’s Degree in Cannabis Studies.
The Lambert Center presents an array of knowledgeable guest speakers throughout its certificate programs. Seth Martin, a Cannabinoid Pharmacology student, said that his favorite part of the program is “the knowledgeable staff and the guest lecturers who have shared new and important information for our classes.”
Martin plans to use the education he is receiving at The Lambert Center to work in the cannabis industry in production, growth, or quality control. With such vast academic resources and a collective of cannabis and hemp experts, Thomas Jefferson University offers a one-of-a-kind academic experience.
Minot State University
Minot State University, a small institution in North Dakota, offers a bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry. This degree plan is supported by the framework of traditional chemistry, modified to focus on the science of medicinal plant products. Medicinal Plant Chemistry is a challenging, well-rounded program. Students will learn about extraction, analysis, and purification of plant compounds with a touch of calculus, physics, and biology.
As of October 2018, Minot State has completed all of the internal steps to launch this degree program in the fall. Christopher Heth, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at MSU, expects to have between 10 and 14 students enrolled in Medicinal Plant Chemistry this year. He anticipates those numbers to increase as more prospective students learn of this newly added program.
Minot State University’s Department of Chemistry is led by five, full-time faculty members with advanced degrees in chemistry. Class sizes are generally small, with upper-level classes ranging from five to 15 students. The small student body allows for an intimate and focused education for every student. Medicinal Plant Chemistry will prepare individuals for success after graduation, especially in careers related to medicinal plant products.
“Our primary focus is to provide our students with a solid, foundational education that they can apply to their future endeavors,” said Heth.
Northern Michigan University
Northern Michigan University also offers a four-year bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry. This degree program is designed to give students the training to perform analysis in a laboratory, and the tools to build their own labs, dispensaries, and grow operations from the ground up.
NMU’s Medical Plant Chemistry is an interdisciplinary program that requires students to take a range of core chemistry courses. Organic chemistry and biochemistry are included with biology and geography courses that are relevant to plants.
Medicinal Plant Chemistry students at NMU may choose between the Entrepreneurial Track and the Bio-Analytical Track. Entrepreneurial Track students learn the business and marketing skills needed to start their own analytical lab, or other business related to plant medicinal products. Bio-Analytical Track students get more training in chemical analysis, preparing them for a position in analytical laboratories. Analytical labs for quality control and analysis play a critical role in the cannabis industry.
The University of Vermont
The University of Vermont offers a seven-week Certificate of Cannabis and Medicine. This graduate certificate is designed for physicians, dispensary personnel, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physicians assistants, and regulators. Students enrolled in this program are taught cannabis history, business, and law while learning plant biology, production and safety, pharmacology, and the biological effects that cannabis has on humans.
UVM is the first medical school in the nation to offer this type of certificate. Theprogram gives professionals a competitive advantage, and the knowledge they need to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of cannabis for therapeutic uses.
A bachelor’s degree is needed before applying for the Certificate of Cannabis and Medicine, preferably with a foundation in biology and chemistry. The university also accepts equivalent work experience in place of a bachelor’s degree.
A handful of universities have incorporated minor programs for students who are looking to expand their degree plans to include cannabis studies. Here are the schools that are participating.
Last fall, Stockton University in New Jersey began offering a minor in Cannabis Studies, consisting of five courses. The courses include Intro to Medical Marijuana, and Cannabis Law. Stockton University aims to prepare students for the complexities of the world in which they will live and work while exposing students to careers they may pursue after graduation.
Stockton University partners with Thomas Jefferson University, giving students internship opportunities and access to powerful guest speakers. The Reliance Health Center, New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA), and the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association are also working with Stockton University to create a stable and in-depth education for their students.
Colorado State University-Pueblo
A Cannabis Studies minor is also offered at this public university in Colorado. The minor is designed for students looking to complement their major program of study in Social Work, History, Sociology, or Political Science. Cannabis Studies students learn the impact that cannabis has on local, state, and federal laws and policies. Students also have the opportunity for internships in health, social, legal, or non-profit settings to prepare for future career choices.
Colorado State University-Pueblo serves a primarily Hispanic demographic. Their student body inspires an emphasis on understanding the impact that cannabis has had on the Hispanic community, and other populations of the Southwestern United States.
The State University of New York at Morrisville
This public college with two separate locations—Morrisville and Norwich—will begin offering its Cannabis Industry minor in the fall of this year. The minor is one of the first programs of its kind available in New York. Cannabis Industry combines business, horticulture, and agricultural sciences. Students will learn botany, production, and processing techniques, as well as marketing and evaluation skills.
In the spring of 2019, SUNY Morrisville participated in a special learning project to explore the growth methods of cannabis. Assistant Professor, Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, is a pioneer in the revitalization of industrial hemp. Last summer, she partnered with local farms to cultivate the first legal hemp crop in New York in almost eight decades.
Students of the Cannabis Industry minor will experience Jenkins’ expertise as they grow their own hempon campus. SUNY Morrisville uses its Controlled Environmental Agriculture (CEA) Greenhouse and its organic Four Seasons Farm for cultivating hemp. Cannabis Industry is the only minor program that gives students the chance to actually grow and cultivate hemp.
SUNY Morrisville students earning a bachelor’s degree in horticulture, agricultural, or natural science will find that the Cannabis Industry minor aligns with their program very well.
Spending years on a degree or certificate isn’t the only option for people who want to be educated about the cannabis industry and growth. There are opportunities to learn from experts to acquire reputable certification outside of a standard university. Below is where to seek such a path.
Humboldt Cannabis College
Headquartered in Garberville, California, Humboldt teaches in-person classes on health, horticulture, cannabis history, and law at various locations in the Emerald Triangle, a region in Northern California that has been growing large amounts of marijuana since the 1960s.
Natural Farming is a 14-week program taught by farming specialist, Dia Damon, alongside a collective of farmers, consultants, and medicine makers. Students learn about cannabis growth from seed, working with specialty clones. They are also taught to understand and create soil fertility for ideal production, and how to brew natural pesticides for bug control. Students will receive a completion certificate and the knowledge they need to journey into natural cannabis farming.
Founded by Pearl Moon, an experienced farmer who creates cannabis-based holistic medicines, Humboldt Cannabis College offers a dynamic education rooted in decades of cannabis growth and cultivation.
Cannabis Training University
This trade-school offers a wide range of online courses. Students can take individual classes on bud-tending, marijuana as medicine, dispensary and delivery operations, cooking with cannabis, extraction, and more. CTU’s Master of Marijuana certificate covers all available courses. Master of Marijuana students are given access to over 200 videos, 100 ebooks, a full law library, and available marijuana jobs for an entire year.
A high school diploma is not needed to enroll in Cannabis Training University, and courses are available online at any time, making this certificate truly accessible for anyone. The Master of Marijuana certificate costs $249; this a budget-friendly option for those looking to become budtenders, licensed growers, or business owners.
As a well-respected institution in Oakland, California, Oaksterdam University provides online and on-campus cannabis education. Founded in 2007 as the “first cannabis college,” OU has educated over 35,000 students in 40 countries.
Oaksterdam University’s hands-on horticulture program teaches students about cultivation and plant management through all stages of growth. Students will spend nine weeks on indoor growth, and five weeks outdoors; it’s the full experience. A five-day condensed version is offered online for those needing to buff their horticulture knowledge quickly.
Cannabis Business is OU’s other major certification program. This program focuses on business management, product development, policies, and legalities. Cannabis Business students learn about employee relations and economics while discovering cannabis myths and facts, details about extracts, and the importance of advocacy and action. Cannabis Business consists of 18 classes over 14 weeks. It is taught by industry leaders and attorneys with real-world expertise.
Oaksterdam University certifications are widely recognized in the industry. The school references all graduates, giving students a fast-track to a career in cannabis.
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Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legal, medical marijuana programs. In the next few years, more states are expected to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire are a few of the states expected to modify cannabis laws in 2019.
It’s already a struggle to find qualified professionals to fill the currently-available cannabis jobs, and more job opportunities are coming. Students who enroll in one of the tradeschools, minor programs, or degree plans mapped outabove will be able to land the most sought-after positions in the industry.