Cannabis Education Arrives (Virtually) At More American Universities

Julie WeedContributorEntrepreneursI cover the legal marijuana industry and its entrepreneur

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Jobs in Cannabis are still “essential” and include horticulture, processing, testing, and sales. … [+] DENVER POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

At first glance, they don’t seem to have much in common: college administrators seeking new revenue sources because their students have all gone home, and displaced workers looking into the legal cannabis industry because it’s still hiring during the pandemic. But the groups are converging. Five universities (with more in the pipeline) are working with Green Flower Media to provide coursework on growing, testing and selling legal cannabis.

Max Simon, Green Flower Media’s founder wasn’t getting much traction pitching cannabis-related online course content to American universities in 2019. Then the Coronavirus hit, and colleges started pivoting as fast as they could to online education, including not-for-credit “continuing education” offerings that could help re-train workers and add revenues to college coffers.

At the same time, cannabis production and sales were deemed “essential” businesses during the pandemic and allowed to remain open by the states where it was legal for medical or recreational purposes.

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By March, interest in Green Flower Mediacertificates focusing on cannabis business practices, medical applications, laws/compliance, and horticulture/agriculture, “jumped into high gear,” said Simon. In the next few months, Florida Atlantic University, Northern Michigan University, a California university (to be made public later,) Mount Aloysius College and the University of San Diego will begin offering the education certificates.MORE FOR YOUMedMen’s Failure Is Everything Wrong With Legal Cannabis (And Is Only The First Company To Implode)Coming Soon To A Higher-Ed Institution Near You: ‘Cannabis U’Vaping Market Could See A Boom This Summer Post-COVID, Say Experts

Each of the four cannabis certificate types include three courses that are delivered over two months and cost $3000. The 405 hours of assignments and “class” time include one third videos and readings, with the rest is divided between research, homework, and internships when possible. For each cohort of 25 students, a facilitator helps with online forums and review projects.

There is demand for well-trained workers in the cannabis industry according to Dr. Steve VandenAvond, Northern Michigan University’ vice president for extended learning and community, because it requires highly specialized knowledge and skills in a number of areas. 

Master growers who understand how to raise high quality plants on a large scale are very much in demand he said. Store managers need to understand and comply with an extra set of financial and security regulations related to cannabis sales. Even retail staff have to learn what they can and can not say when they are selling. “Companies have told us they don’t always have the capacity to train their employees to the level required,” said Green Flower’s Simon.

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Northern Michigan University, one of Green Flower’s new partners, has been offering a for-credit course, Medicinal Plant Chemistry, including information on THC extraction and testing of cannabis plants, since 2017. Hundreds applied for the first class, surprising the university, and the course has remained popular.

Soon after the class launched, the university started receiving student queries about cannabis coursework beyond the hard sciences. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2008 through the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative, and sales of adult recreational use cannabis products began in December 2019.

Steve VandenAvond chose Green Flower to supply a set of not-for-credit online courses to offer this summer. “We have a long history of engaging with the community and offering what the work force wants,” VandenAvond said. These classes were “a natural next step,” at school in a fairly rural part of Michigan’s upper peninsula. Cannabis jobs there have been deemed essential in the pandemic.

“There’s a need for trained workers and these courses do a good job mixing lectures, quizzes and other interactive media elements,” said VandenAvond.

Green Flower has connections with local employers to help find internships and full-time work for its students.

Simon believes this year will be a turning point in education when colleges “will see cannabis as a legitimate industry and cannabis education as a legitimate student education area.”

Looking to the future, Simon plans to expand the curriculum, and is already working on a Cannabis Criminal Justice certificate. He also hopes to sign more schools on – he said is in conversations with thirty other institutions.Follow me on Twitter. Check out my websiteJulie Weed

Author of the best-selling All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft. I now write about the marijuana industry for Forbes and, yes, Weed is my real… Read More

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