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Colleges Helping to Fill Growing Pipeline to Cannabis Employers

College is all about preparing young adults to succeed by training them for jobs in sought-after, prominent industries. And for the first time, the cannabis industry is now a part of that vision.

As more states legalize medical and adult-use marijuana, there is a growing demand for trained experts with cannabis-specific knowledge. Colleges and institutions around the country are gearing up to meet the need for cannabis-skilled professionals, and they’re linking their graduates with potential employers.

Marijuana businesses, on the other hand, can go to these institutions to fill positions; it’s a win-win situation that promises huge returns in the coming years for the cannabis industry.

Cannabis Employment Projections

The marijuana industry is exploding, and so are job opportunities. Just this year, according to the MJBiz Factbook, the cannabis space is estimated to support between 425,000 and 520,000 full-time jobs in the United States. By 2025, that figure might reach 670,000. 

Twenty- and thirty-somethings are leaving established careers in other professions to pursue a future in cannabis – including registered nurses and others, like professionals with advanced degrees. 

It turns out that working in compliance comes with a big paycheck. A compliance professional with a Bachelor’s degree can make more starting out than a faculty member would – with a Ph.D. 

Let that sink in. 

RELATED READING: New Jobs Report Shows Marijuana Industry Is The Place To Be

Colleges Offering Cannabis Programs

If you’re curious about the establishments offering courses in cannabis education, here is a rundown of some universities offering degrees or classes in the field.

Colorado State University Pueblo in Pueblo, California.

They currently have 58 students enrolled in their Bachelor of Science in cannabis biology and chemistry. Tuition costs $366.47 per credit (for residents, or $549.70 for nonresidents).

Colorado State University Pueblo began offering its cannabis biology and chemistry degree in the fall of 2020, therefore no students have graduated from the program as of yet.

Graduates of the department’s first cannabis diplomas, which will be awarded in 2024, will be qualified to work in a biology or chemistry laboratory – either in the marijuana industry or for a mainstream corporation.

Students study cannabis physiology, as well as the plant’s pharmacological implications and practical applications. They can specialize in one of two areas of emphasis: analytical or natural products, both of which equip students to work in a lab or seek graduate degrees in biology or chemistry.

Every year, the university holds the Institute of Cannabis Research conference and supports the Journal of Cannabis Research.

The university is actively trying to set up internships and research project opportunities with players in the industrial hemp industry to give graduates a leg up on the competition for securing employment.


Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

They have 99 students currently enrolled in their Associate degree in cannabis science/Bachelor of Science in cannabis chemistry. Tuition fees are $4,308 flat rate per semester or $359 per credit hour (winter 2021 and summer 2022).

Students will learn cannabis extraction and separation procedures, as well as how to test marijuana-related chemicals and toxins. Cannabis chemistry graduates will have spent more than 600 hours in instrumentation laboratories studying industry-standard processes.

In other words, Lake Superior State University–which provides courses such as Cannabis Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, and Cannabis Separations as part of its career-focused curriculum–is a good place to score chemistry grads with hands-on expertise.

According to the institution, nearly all Lake Superior students are either admitted to graduate school or placed in jobs within a year after graduation.


Other institutions offering programs in cannabis-related fields:

University of Nevada, Reno

Degree offered: Certificate in cannabis education


Northern Michigan University

Degree offered: Bachelor of Science in medicinal plant chemistry


Oaksterdam University

Degree offered: Certificates in extraction and manufacturing, budtending, business, and horticulture


University of Rhode Island

Degree offered: Online certificate in cannabis studies


State University of New York (SUNY) at Morrisville

Degree offered: Minor in cannabis studies


Stockton University

Degree offered: Minor in cannabis studies


Western Illinois University

Degree offered: Minor in cannabis production


Spurred on by advances made in legalization nationwide, cannabis is one of the fastest-growing job market sectors–and schools are reacting to fill the need. College students who want to pursue a career in the cannabis industry now have many options of degrees and courses that they can take to break into the job market – whether they want to work in growing, laboratories, compliance, budtending, retail, or business.

Want more news and breaking information on what’s happening in the cannabis space? Head over to the Beard Bros website for a wealth of cannabis content.

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