Community College Cannabis Programs
The flourishing cannabis industry is not only proving to be a cash boom for investors and states collecting increasing amounts of taxes revenues, but it is also a high growth sector for employment. While there are many applicants for jobs in the business, not many of the applicants have the required training or experience to make them qualified for the positions opening up. This is where many colleges have seen a gap in the marketplace that needs filling through cannabis education.
37 states have now legalized the use of medical marijuana, with more set to follow the same path on both the medical and recreational use. Revenues from marijuana sales for the year 2018 are estimated to be between $8.6-$10 billion. The overall market is estimated to be in the region of $50-$60 billion with black-market inclusion. There is huge potential for legal market growth when over regulation doesn’t stifle small entrepreneurs looking to make a big splash in this sector. California cannabis tax policies are a good example of this.
The workforce supporting this business is also expected to grow to between 175,000-215,000 in 2019. With this potential growth forecast for the economy, it is obvious that a qualified workforce is becoming increasingly sought after.
From the growth and development phase to distribution and marketing departments, a strong understanding of the business is needed if the sector is to reach its maximum potential. The medical marijuana niche is also in great need of specialists that can work on strains that will be useful in the treatment of various ailments, and those that can properly advise patients on their options.
A survey carried out in 2019 by the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy revealed that 62% of U.S. pharmacy schools featured cannabis education in their programs, while 23% already had plans to add it to their curriculum. However, when looking at medical programs, an earlier study found that only 9% of medical schools trained students on cannabis. This resulted in 89.5% of medical residents being unprepared to prescribe medical cannabis.
The slow uptake by medical schools in offering sufficient training in how to apply cannabis in medical treatments has proven to be an obstacle, but one that many in the industry believe will be overcome. One concern that may have some bearing on why many schools are hesitant to roll out courses on cannabis education, is federal law.
Even though many states have legalized marijuana for medical and personal use, it is still considered an illegal narcotic at the federal level. The Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Act ties federal funding to colleges and universities to policies that prohibit ‘unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on its property’. Failure to adhere to such policies can cause a school to lose funding, including federal student aid.
In states like Illinois, trade associations like the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois are trying to help schools remain federally compliant. They have suggested keeping any marijuana plants off campus by offering students the opportunity to intern or learn about the crop at their farms and plants.
Keeping pace with industry demands, several colleges and universities have developed academic programs related to the research, marketing, medical and legal aspects of the business.
- Northern Michigan University – Medicinal Plant Chemistry: This is a 4-year undergraduate program that is focused on offering technical training in medicinal plant production, analysis, and distribution.
- Harvard Law School – Cannabis Law: This course looks at the impact of federal, state, and local legislation on the growing cannabis sector. It also examines related issues such as banking, land use, civil rights and criminal law enforcement as pertains to medical and recreational use.
- University of Vermont – Cannabis Past, Present, and Future: Offered by UVM’s Department of Pharmacology, the course focuses on cannabis taxonomy, chemistry, physiological impacts and developing therapeutic applications.
- Florida Gulf Coast University – Cannabis Professional Certificate Program: The program focuses on understanding the physiological, therapeutic and societal effects of cannabis. Through training by academicians and experts in the field, it also brings to light career and financial opportunities in the industry.
- University of Connecticut – Horticulture of Cannabis: From Seed to Harvest: set to begin in the spring through the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, this introductory course will provide comprehensive science training in cannabis horticulture with topics such as cannabis genetics, plant hormones, seed selection, soil testing, and lab testing of harvest being covered.
If you’re looking to study in this field or has other sources of Universities that are launching their cannabis curriculum within the next two years, please feel free to create an account and comment below on your sources. Our readers will love your contribution to this information.