As governments around the world shift their position on cannabis and move to legalize the market, companies involved in growing enterprises of cannabis, as well as hemp, and CBD, stand to reap major rewards. While the cannabis industry still has its hurdles linked to murky regulatory waters, one university is offering a program particularly for business students seeking to make a career in the nascent medical marijuana market.

A Booming Market

Leading cannabis producers including Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC), Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB) and Tilray Inc. (TLRY) have seen their share prices soar over the recent years on the back of Canada’s legalization of recreational cannabis and signs of growing mainstream interest in the space. While the major players have sliced out big portions of the market, new startups have plenty of room to grow. Big firms in industries such as beverages and tobacco are now doubling down on cannabis investments, such as Constellation Brand Inc.’s (STZ) $4 billion bet on Canopy. Experts now predict the global legal cannabis market could reach $66.3 billion by 2025. 

Meanwhile, the medical marijuana market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.7% by 2025, thanks to the increasing use of marijuana for the treatment of pain and severe medical conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parknson’s and other conditions. 

USciences Claims First Graduate-Level Cannabis Degree

The demand for cannabis therapies has led to the development of a specialized Cannabis Industry Masters of Business Administration program at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, per a recent press release. The program claims to be the first-of-its-kind degree, and will be housed within the Substance Use Disorders Institute. The University will offer the online learning program as a track under the specialized MBA in pharmaceutical and health care business. 

USciences Cannabis Option currently includes four courses; an intro to the medical cannabis industry, finance and regulation, marketing and sales, and a project-based class. 

“There are many unique aspects to the medical cannabis and hemp industries, and those in this new industry have been testing the waters for the last few years. This new program will help to formalize those teachings for those currently in the cannabis industry, entering the field, or interested in other fields associated with the industry,” said Andrew Peterson, executive director of the Substance Use Disorders Institute. He added that the course will be particularly useful as medical cannabis converges with the pharmaceutical industry. 

The new program is admitting students through Dec 1. for courses starting in spring 2020. 

While Peterson notes that USciences program is the only one to offer a cannabis program at the graduate level, other universities around the country have developed cannabis-focused curriculums. For example, the University of Maryland now has an MS program in medical cannabis science and therapeutics, while Northern Michigan University offers an undergraduate degree in medical plant chemistry. In 2018, Thomas Jefferson University offered the country’s first medical marijuana certificate programs, including cannabinoid pharmacology and cannabinoid chemistry and toxicology. 

Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Industries

The prospect of the U.S. government removing cannabis from its labeling as a Schedule 1 drug, a category for substances with high potential for abuse and low medical value, would be a major win for the medical marijuana industry. This would bring medical marijuana into the pharmaceutical supply chain, and also make it possible for biomedical researchers to investigate the uses of cannabis. 

Those positioned to benefit include pharmaceutical company Abbvie Inc. (ABBV), which already has a synthetic cannabis-based drug called Marinol on the market, and U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH), which markets Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved drug derived from an active marijuana ingredient. 

The USciences course will not cover recreational cannabis, but it will touch on industrial hemp, which has legalized by the federal government in 2018. After decreased of strict regulation, hemp is now making an industrial scale comeback. 

Ten states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized recreational marijuana, while medical marijuana is legally available in 33 states.