Where Can You Get A Degree To Work In The Marijuana Industry?

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BEST 1. Growers Clay Berlin, left, and Anthony Reynolds hand trim flowering marijuana plants while working at Americanna cannabis products company on Wednesday in Boulder. For more photos of the production go to www.dailycamera.com Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer Aug. 17, 2016

The marijuana industry’s exponential growth in the last several years has created a plethora of opportunities in the mainstream economy. But kinks in the industry, including regulatory ones, are still being worked out. To that extent, it is still nascent and needs a professionally-trained workforce to firm up its contours. Currently there are few colleges or universities that train students in this field. Here is a brief primer on growth prospects for marijuana-related courses and colleges that offer them. (See also: Most-Shorted Marijuana Stocks.)

Why Does The Marijuana Industry Need Professionals?  

More than anything else, the marijuana industry is a business opportunity. A change in public attitudes regarding the industry in recent years has been accompanied by a growing realization about the numerous commercial and medicinal benefits of marijuana. For example, cannabis is being used in trials to treat PTSD for soldiers returning from war. This is in addition to the plant’s already prevalent uses as a medicine.

As states pass laws to de-stigmatize marijuana, the business opportunities multiply. Research firm Cowen & Co. estimates that the weed market will be worth $75 billion by 2030. According to a report from New Frontier Data, the legal cannabis industry will create more than a quarter million jobs by 2020. This estimate is based on job requirements from states that have already legalized marijuana and does not include numbers from states which might do the same by the target timeline.

Those jobs will be in businesses comprising a wide array of positions, from customer success to business development reps to chemists, botanists, and finance-related jobs. An applicant intimate with the industry’s nuances will be a natural fit for these positions.

Where Can You Learn About Marijuana?  

Northern Michigan University offers the only degree program related to marijuana. According to the school’s website, there is a “major gap in educational opportunities available to prepare people for this field.” Students at the university can opt for the “Medicinal Plant Chemistry” undergraduate major, which has subjects that include the business and chemistry of marijuana. These subjects include organic chemistry, plant physiology, botany, accounting, genetics, physical geography, and financial management. At the end of the course, graduating students are ready for careers in marijuana research or to open their own marijuana-related business ventures.

Oaksterdam University in California is another place to study for a career in the marijuana industry. The university advertises itself as America’s first cannabis college and offers certificate programs in subjects related to marijuana. Prospective students at the university can either opt for business- or horticulture-related subject certification. The business certificates cover regulatory and management aspects of marijuana while the horticulture track deals with the intricacies of growing marijuana. Cleveland Cannabis College, which is located in Ohio, has a similar setup and offers executive certificate programs as well.

The broad and constantly evolving nature of the marijuana industry means that it is fertile ground for students from multiple subjects. To that extent, specialized degrees from other subjects can also provide a foothold in the industry.

For example, a degree in horticulture makes professionals knowledgeable about marijuana cultivation. Similarly, a business degree can also prepare students for careers in the industry. Realizing the industry’s potential, even the prestigious Yale School of Management (SOM) has jumped into the fray. In February this year, the Ivy League university’s business school held a conference to “discuss the opportunities and challenges of legal cannabis.”

The Bottom Line

The marijuana industry is poised to become a major contributor to the economy. As the industry matures and grows, it will need the services of a wide array of professionals and experts from multiple disciplines to hone its products for customers and deal with regulatory affairs. To fill that need, universities around the United States have begun offering courses and certifications in marijuana studies.

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