A Marijuana Major? More Colleges Are Offering Cannabis Courses To Help Students Score …

Scottsdale Community College (SCC) in Arizona recently announced an eight-week cannabis industry education course.

“Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Bobra Crockett, who oversees the curriculum’s development. Students can study a range of topics, including business planning, marketing, funding, regulations and social equity, she explained.

SCC aims to use its online program to educate students beyond the Arizona area, hopefully teaching aspiring entrepreneurs and those already operating in the illicit cannabis space who desire to convert their skills to the professional market.

“It is our goal to help develop a qualified and trained workforce,” Crockett adds.

SCC is just one example of a school tweaking its offerings as a means of keeping up with a growing trend: As demand for college-educated cannabis professionals increases, more students will seek out marijuana-centric programs.

At the moment, there’s an education void. Companies typically rely solely on experience and recommendations from valued sources as primary job qualifiers. That prospect is changing with each passing school year and the burgeoning marijuana industry has colleges evolving.

More Colleges Embrace Cannabis

Oaksterdam University was believed to be the first and — until now — only viable option for an in-class cannabis education.

But there has been an uptick in new schools looking to prepare students for the market. Española-based Northern New Mexico College, for example, has worked with in-state education provider SeedCrest to bring its program online by March 22.

Western Washington University also announced a new program for 2021. The university collaborated with media and industry education platform Green Flower to help close the skills gap.

Western Illinois University joined the effort in February 2020 with the launch of two minors focusing on cannabis production and culture. The programs began during the Fall 2020 semester.

Clark University in Massachusetts touts itself as having the nation’s first certificate in cannabis control regulation. Introduced in June 2019, the program provides students with municipal policy and guidance training.

Associate Dean Mary Piecewicz says the success of a program depends on its learning outcomes.

“A cannabis-related program must be flexible to adapt to the ever-changing legal landscape both at the local and state level to remain relevant,” she adds.

Staffing/Biz Perspective

Staffing and business leaders in cannabis commend the influx of educational opportunities.

Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc. (OTC:MJNA), told Benzinga that cannabis is “maybe one of the greatest growth opportunities in the history of the country, and couldn’t be more needed at this time.”

The need for formal education grows as the space is further legalized, Titus explained. A budtender role will likely merge more with functions that a pharmacist would perform. In the years to come, Dr. Titus sees a degree having a “tremendous impact within the industry.”

Titus also emphasized the importance of on-the-job training, be it through a formal education or other methods like an internship or apprenticeship.

“You can’t teach someone to trim cannabis properly unless you’re on the job,” he said.

Staffing leaders have also reported an uptick in demand for formal education.

Cannabiz Team founder and CEO Liesl Bernard says alternative training methods remain viable in cannabis, but that will change as the industry matures.

“It makes sense as the industry gets more evolved that the specific knowledge in cannabis is going to be valuable and preferred by employers,” she said.

Kara Bradford, co-founder and CEO of Viridian Staffing, says extraction companies, for example, are now asking for applicants to have chemistry or biochemistry degrees.

Product formulation will also require more emphasis on formal education, according to Viridian.

“As we continue to see those programs come online down the road, I think they will become increasingly important,” Bradford added.

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