The marijuana industry’s exponential growth in the last several years created numerous 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 relatively 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.

Marijuana remains illegal or heavily controlled in some states, so check your local laws before investing in an education that you may not be able to use.

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 led to a growing realization about the numerous commercial and medicinal benefits of marijuana. For instance, cannabis is being used in trials to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for soldiers returning from war. That is in addition to the plant's already prevalent uses as a medicine.

As states legalize marijuana, the business opportunities multiply. Research firm Cowen & Co. estimated that the weed market will be worth $75 billion by 2030. That will mean new jobs 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.

The marijuana industry is becoming increasingly respectable and creating high-paying jobs in the process. Cannabis consultants, dispensary operators, cannabis extraction technicians, grow masters, and marijuana chefs all have the potential to earn significant amounts.

Where Can You Learn About Marijuana?

Northern Michigan University offers a 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. The Cleveland School of Cannabis, which is located in Ohio, has a similar setup and offers certificate programs, as well as online courses via Zoom.

The University of Vermont now offers a variety of online classes and certificates related to marijuana. Online cannabis science and medicine modules are available, with access to materials unlocked within 24 hours. Furthermore, the University of Vermont grants Cannabis Science and Medicine Professional Certificates and Professional Certificates in Cannabis Plant Biology. The certificate programs are fully online, and students can finish them in less than two months.

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) has a Cannabis Studies program that provides various courses to help students understand all the facets of the marijuana industry. Besides classes in "The Horticulture and Botany of Cannabis" and "The Pharmacology and Physiology of Cannabis," FGCU also has courses on "Marijuana Law" and "Cannabusiness."

Moving Forward

The broad and continually evolving nature of the marijuana industry means that it is fertile ground for students from multiple subjects. To that extent, specialized degrees from other fields can also provide a foothold for growth 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 has jumped into the fray. In February of 2018, 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.