If you were entering college and heard about a new industry that had grown 46% since 2019, would you pursue a degree in that field? If so, you’d be one of the thousands of students considering an education in cannabis.
Forbes reported cannabis sales hit a new record of $17.5 billion in 2020, up nearly double from the year prior.
Institutions of higher learning aren’t about to miss out on the boom. According to Leafly, there are now 321,000 full-time American cannabis jobs.
There are even some cannabis companies offering scholarships to help their employees expand their expertise. Veriheal and Steadfast Labs, for example, are offering $1,200 scholarships annually to staff pursuing cannabis studies.
Institutions offering cannabis education
With the industry’s expansion, it’s not surprising many accredited universities are investing time and money into cannabis education. Some universities only offer a few classes while others have full degrees in cannabis. With so many options available, students can choose whichever classes best suit their needs and interests.
Northern Michigan University
NMU began offering a degree in medicinal plant chemistry in 2017.
The program debuted as “the only four-year degree program of its kind to combine experimental horticulture and advanced analytical chemistry with an optional entrepreneurial track,” said NMU’s News Director Kristi Evans.
They are now offering a multidisciplinary indoor agriculture associate degree for careers in medicinal plant and agricultural food production.
Lake Superior State University
In 2019, LSSU began offering a degree in cannabis studies with a focus on cannabis chemistry. They’ve since added a degree in cannabis business. The university’s Cannabis Center of Excellence offers courses like cannabis economics, cannabis law and policy, and survey of cannabis business.
Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University offers a cannabis production minor and a cannabis culture minor. Cannabis production is focused on horticulture sciences and plant physiology where students take classes like crop biotechnology.
The cannabis culture minor focuses on how the prohibition of cannabis negatively affected the lives of people of color. Students with this minor would take classes like contemporary moral problems and cannabis & popular culture.
Ohio State University
Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law offers a course on marijuana law and policy and a seminar on marijuana law. One popular course is cannabiz: exploring the “legalized” cannabis industry from a corporate transactional perspective.
It focuses on a business-first approach to initiatives on decriminalization and legalization. It will also discuss the long history of marijuana and policies already in place.
In New Jersey, Stockton University students can get a minor in cannabis studies. Every student with this minor is required to take medical marijuana and the cannabis law courses.
The university also offers an online cannabis certification course. It is composed of six courses, including cannabis cultivation, introduction to research in medical and adult-use cannabis, and introduction to business.
At New York’s SUNY Morrisville, they also offer a cannabis industry minor. The six courses required are based on understanding a variety of production and processing techniques and evaluation of market trends. Some of the course options are hemp production & processing and soil science.
University of Denver
The University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law offers many classes on marijuana law and policy. One of the courses currently featured is representing the marijuana client. The course focuses on the challenges of representing a person with cannabis offenses amidst frequently changing rules and regulations.
Colorado State University Pueblo
The Pueblo division of Colorado State University created the Institute of Cannabis Research in 2016, offering the nation’s first multi-disciplinary cannabis research center at a regional institution. Pueblo’s campus offers a degree in cannabis biology and chemistry and a minor in cannabis studies.
University of California – Davis
As California is one of the hottest spots for cannabis, it’s no surprise the University of Califonia – Davis offers a course called medicinal cannabis and chronic pain. The Davis section of the University of California is the only area that offers this course.
Are cannabis degrees legitimate?
Graduating with a degree in cannabis is not as strange as it sounds. Cannabis job openings are growing faster than any other industry. According to a study by Leafly, by 2029 there will be an increase of 161% of cannabis jobs in America alone.
Unfortunately, there seem to be no federal accreditation agencies for cannabis-related education. As federal legalization of marijuana hasn’t arrived just yet, the funds that could possibly go to creating one is more likely to go to established agencies. Additionally, the programs and courses must adhere to federal rules and regulations.
According to the ANSI National Accreditation Board’s Cannabis Testing Lab Accreditation Program, accredited laboratories are allowed to perform relevant testing on “cannabinoid testing and content like CBD, THC, and CBG, terpene profiles, pesticides, microbiological contaminants such as mold and bacteria, heavy metal, and residual solvents.” This means that cannabis labs on college campuses must adhere to this set of rules and regulations as well.
Is pursuing a degree in cannabis a wise choice? It is looking more and more likely that federal legalization is coming soon. Getting in on the ground floor of any new industry is often profitable, even if it requires some hard work and a lot of patience. Cannabis degrees are legitimate and give students a chance to learn about something they’re passionate about.
The cannabis space is full of opportunities in science, engineering, chemistry, math, and technology. People passionate about the plant are not pursuing the study of intoxication, they’re helping expand an industry focused on medical innovations and lucrative business opportunities.