Despite mixed signals from the federal government, most experts believe that legal cannabis is here to stay. They expect full federal legalization is eventual. Moreover, employment in this nascent industry is lucrative and growing more so, according to Forbes. A report by employment analyst firm Vangst, found that the average cannabis worker’s salary has increased by 16.1% from 2017-2018. Now, colleges and universities, recognizing this dramatic upward trend, are starting to offer classes in cannabis.
Stockton University in New Jersey is now offering a minor in medical marijuana. 25 students have signed up for the program, according to NJ Advance Media. Rutgers, also in New Jersey, also offers a cannabis-based course, along with hands-on experience, through a partnership with a local dispensary. The University of Vermont and Northern Michigan University too, offer such courses.
The University of Denver has classes on cannabis law, business, and journalism. Vanderbilt offers them in cannabis policy and law. The University of California-Davis even offers a course on the physiology of cannabis. A small Ohio institution, Hocking College, is even going one step farther. It offers a cannabis technician major. This program will give students hands-on experience in a cannabis lab testing facility. The lab will test product for pesticides, mold, and other nasties.
It’s not just American colleges and universities offering such classes and programs. Canadian institutions are doing so as well, and just in time. The country legalizes nationwide this fall. Ontario’s Niagra College recently launched a one-year postgraduate certificate program in cannabis cultivation. This is for students already trained in plant science. They have a cultivation facility right on campus, providing hands-on experience. Students can also take classes on government regulation, pest control, climate control, and nutrition.
Other colleges in Canada offer similar programs. Okanagan College in British Columbia and Olds College in New Brunswick both offer postgraduate programs. Loyalist College in Ontario and the University of Guelph have their own cannabis agricultural programs, too. And more colleges and universities are likely to start their own, once nationwide legalization becomes entrenched. The piecemeal legalization that’s going on in the US has perhaps made colleges and universities more reticent. But with legalization becoming more commonplace, this reticence is likely to drop off.
Is it Worth it?
Will these students get a job after they’ve completed their studies? Absolutely. Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in the US. Somewhere between 125,000 and 160,000 workers are already employed in the industry, according to Marijuana Busines Daily. But will this trend last? In the short to medium term, for sure. According to Forbes, the cannabis industry is expected to grow 220% in 2019. By 2021, cannabis will be a $40 billion industry that’ll support 414,000 jobs. That’s according to a report by Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.
Salaries are expected to continue to rise, as there is no shortage of capital flowing in. Positions in IT, marketing, HR, and legal are plentiful in established markets and are growing more so in burgeoning ones. Positions include director of extraction, director of cultivation, compliance manager, outside sales representative, dispensary store manager, budtender, and trimmer.
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