Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states, with more to follow in 2020. The medical industry alone is also incredibly lucrative for participating states—for example, Maryland’s first-year cannabis sales reached nearly $100 million. And the additional economic potential of recreational marijuana means that this multi-billion-dollar industry is set to create thousands more jobs for policymakers, plant scientists, researchers and more.
In response to this growing demand, universities across the country have begun offering courses related to cannabis science and business, with certificates and degree programs following closely behind. Below are six accredited programs aimed at a variety of students, ranging from undergraduates to working professionals.
Graduate Certificate in Regulatory Affairs
This program, offered by Clark University in Massachusetts, will “provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the public policy issues involved in the cultivation, distribution, sales, and regulation of adult-use and medicinal-use cannabis,” according to a June 2019 press release.
The certificate is aimed toward policymakers in the public health and safety arena and takes two semesters to complete. Coursework focuses on the intersection of public policy and practical industry applications.
Medicinal Plant Chemistry
An undergraduate degree offered by Northern Michigan University, this is the only 4-year Bachelor's program designed to prepare students for a scientific or research role within the cannabis industry. The program focuses on extraction technology, cannabis plant science, and the production, analysis, and distribution of medicinal plants.
The program also recognizes the importance of new business opportunities within the cannabis industry and aims to prepare students for the option of cannabis entrepreneurship. Unique to this degree are two specialization tracks offered: Students can choose between either a focus on plant biology and chemistry or on business and accounting.
Cannabis Studies Minor
Offered by Stockton University in New Jersey, the minor in cannabis studies is an interdisciplinary program covering areas of law, research, and cultivation. Students will also learn about the basic operations of small businesses as related to the cannabis industry, to better prepare for working in this new field.
Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics
Offered by the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, the focus of this two-year Masters program is trifold: to teach students practical, real-world skills applicable within the industry, to further medical cannabis research, and to develop effective public policy surrounding medical cannabis.
This program is designed for working professionals, including pharmacists, health care professionals, and scientists. Courses are completed online, with an in-person symposium held once per semester at the university.
Professional Certificates for Medical Professionals
Recent additions to the University of Vermont’s course offerings include two cannabis certificates, aimed at working professionals seeking entry or advancement within the industry. Both accreditations are offered through the School of Medicine and target interdisciplinary studies between clinical applications, research, and public policy.
Cannabis Plant Biology
Specifically designed for people working in the hemp industry, this professional certificate educates about the lifecycle of cannabis production. The curriculum is entirely online and lasts 8 weeks, and covers topics such as cannabis genetics, processing and handling, and agricultural best practices.
Cannabis Science and Medicine
Aimed at clinicians and dispensary managers, this program educates about the benefits, risks, and indications of cannabis use. Also online and lasting 7 weeks, the certificate program covers topics like policy and law, safety and pharmacology, and biological effects of the plant when consumed.
Medical Marijuana Consultant
For those living in Washington state, Seattle Central College offers professional development and continuing education programs specific to the cannabis industry. In partnership with the Washington Department of Health, the college offers online or in-person certificate programs meeting the requirements set forth by the state for individuals who sell medical marijuana.
The legal cannabis industry offers nearly limitless potential for research, therapeutics, and entrepreneurship, and only continues to grow with each passing year. For students enrolled in a university not offering a cannabis-specific program, consider a degree with a focus in biology, marketing, business administration, law, or agriculture.