Filling in the gaps: How these educators are training the modern cannabis market

May 13, 2019

As PotNetwork reported last week, the cannabis market is quickly becoming a “job-seekers market”. A surplus of positions and an insufficient number of qualified applicants is good news for anyone currently searching for a greener career, but this situation makes it painfully obvious how the cannabis industry is lacking in educational resources.

In 2017, only nine percent of medical schools in the United States included cannabis in their educational programs. That same year, nearly 90 percent of medical students reported feeling unprepared to prescribe cannabis, while 35 percent did not feel comfortable even answering their patients’ questions regarding cannabis.

Today, the numbers are looking a little better. A recent study completed by the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy found that 62 percent of pharmacy schools have since added medical cannabis to their doctoral programs. And in Connecticut, the state university is offering classes on seed selection, irrigation, growing, and a new Cannabis and Communications course.  

[LISTEN: University of Connecticut offers the science and practice of growing cannabis]

To be clear, many classes pertaining to cannabis actually use industrial hemp for their lessons. The 2018 Farm Bill may have legalized hemp, but cannabis is still illegal to grow and sell in some states, putting limitations on when, where, and how individuals can learn about the many different facets of this plant and its industry. Regardless of these limitations, the cannabis industry continues to expand, creating a desperate need for educated employees and investors. And that need is only getting bigger.

New Frontier Data reported in 2017 that cannabis could create nearly 283,000 new jobs in the United States by 2020. But by last year the legal cannabis industry in the U.S. had already created 259,000 new jobs, practically blowing away the initial predictions. Now, the market stands to be worth $26.3 billion by 2025, meaning employment rates are only going to continue to climb.

Preparing qualified employees for the cannabis market means not only educating degree-seeking students but also providing resources for and opportunities to teach the existing generations of budtenders, trimmers, doctors, cannabis investors, even accountants and ad executives. From incentives and discounts for signing up your whole staff to offering programs focused on getting minority business owners into the industry, these cannabis educators are filling in the gaps that traditional education is leaving behind.

THC University offers business training for cannabis employees.

While colleges are now starting to offer cannabis courses both online and on campus for enrolled students, THC University is offering business training programs for employees already working in the cannabis industry. Employers can enroll their staff through the university’s online portal, set staff milestones, and keep tabs on employees’ progress. Employees themselves have the luxury of studying anywhere and on their own time with certification programs covering everything from terpenes to state-specific safety laws and regulations. Certified employees can also use the school website to upload their resume and apply for jobs.

Oaksterdam University delivers on a Cannabis Business Licensing Bootcamp in Missouri

California-based Oaksterdam University, the first cannabis college in the US, offers horticulture and business courses tailored specifically for the industry, including classes on intellectual property and legal business structures. They provide hands-on learning, with a volunteer program that puts students in a horticulture lab on a weekly basis and an internship program that gives graduates the chance to experience the cannabis industry firsthand. Their most recent curriculum launched in April as a licensing bootcamp in Missouri, a state which just legalized medical marijuana last November.

[Exclusive preview: HerbForce cannabis talent marketing report shows fastest-growing job market is ultra-competitive]

The bootcamp provided small minority-owned and women-owned businesses in Missouri with resources to understand the landscape of the state’s brand new cannabis industry. Over four weeks, business owners were taught how to navigate Missouri’s licensing process, how to strategize their own license applications, and were given specialized equity-focused training and development.

Trichome Institute creates interpening courses for cannabis sommeliers

The Trichome Institute, founded by Max Montrose in 2008, provides training textbooks, workbooks, and online courses for anyone interested in learning more about cannabis. The Institute is known for TAG, the Trichome Assurance Grade, which has been used to judge many different Cannabis Cups, as well as its unique classes in interpening.

According to the Institute’s website, “interpening” is a combination of the words “interpreting” and “terpenes”. It is a means of evaluating the quality of cannabis flower and its psychotropic effects. Individuals can enroll in the interpening courses online, starting with Level One courses and moving into a Professional Interpening lecture that covers cannabis speciation, taxonomy, phenotype, genotype, and chemotype among other things. The Institute is currently developing an Advanced Interpening course that will study marijuana “from seed to smoke”, giving professional-level interpeners a more detailed look at the cannabis plant from all stages.

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