Colleges are Launching Cannabis Degrees and Certificate Programs

[Editor’s Note: Cannabis is a field of business and education will be key to one’s success. Education is integral to its mainstreaming process.]

Higher education is getting into the business of prepping students for careers in cannabis.


Cannabis is coming to the classroom. The first degrees in cannabis chemistry will be offered beginning this fall at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., according to the university’s website. The soon-to-be-launched program will offer both associate and bachelor’s degrees, and will equip students “with the knowledge necessary to gain employment in emergent cannabis markets.”

“We are training students to become leaders in the emerging field of cannabis analysis,” chemistry professor Steven Johnson said on the university’s website. “In this unique program, students handle and analyze actual cannabis plant material and not surrogate material. Graduates will be chemists, first and foremost, trained in industry standards of cannabis analysis.”

In 2008, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medical cannabis. In 2018, it became legal for recreational use as well, and the state has until December 2019 to establish a licensing program for recreational dispensaries.

Over in Vermont, higher education institutions have launched certificate programs that aim to provide students with pathways into the industry. According to VTDigger, Vermont Technical College plans to introduce a CBD and greenhouse cash crop certificate program that will be offered beginning this fall. An entire session will take place over the course of nine days and will cost $1,350.

“This training series will introduce participants to common techniques for the production of hemp, and CBD, as well as a basic understanding of the chemistry and current regulations as they relate to cannabis cultivation,” says the college’s website.

The University of Vermont, meanwhile, launched a professional certificate in cannabis science and medicine back in 2016. The school’s website states that UVM “is the first medical school in the nation to offer a professional certificate in cannabis and medicine.” The seven-week, online program is designed for a wide range of working professionals, including physicians, dispensary personnel, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physician assistants, edible creators, regulators, and budtenders. The curriculum covers cannabis history, business, law and policy, plant biology, biological effects on humans, production and safety, pharmacology, and clinical research.

Cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational use in Vermont, although the state has yet to establish a tax-and-regulate system.

In Maryland, one professor is trying to get his own cannabis certificate off the ground. Shad Ewart, chair of the Department of Business Management at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, is in the process of proposing a 16-credit multidisciplinary program that would effectively prepare students for entry-level careers in the cannabis space. He first began teaching a course called “Entrepreneurial Opportunity in Expanding Markets: Cannabis Legalization” in 2015, which his proposed 16-credit program would build upon. He is currently awaiting approval from the college’s internal educational and planning committee, at which point the proposed program will be forwarded up the chain until it reaches the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

“Compare it to the gold rush,” Ewart told High Times. “In the gold rush, the people who made the money were not the people who found the gold nuggets. It was the people who sold the picks and shovels, so that’s where I encourage my students to look.”

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