Cannabis is at the top of the list for the fastest-growing industries for 2021, and that means job opportunities will grow enormously. According to a new report, marijuana markets are projected to reach more than USD 23 billion and offer 500,000 new U.S. jobs by 2022. According to estimates from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, cannabis sales in Canada will grow to CAD 4.1 billion in 2021, up from CAD 2.5 billion in 2020.
Cannabis has a rich history in Canada. In fact, it was a cash crop for settlers long before Canada was officially a country. So, what’s the best way to break into the cannabis market? It comes down to a strategic combination of education and experience. That’s where cannabis schools can play a big role.
The demand for talent and specialized knowledge has led to dozens of cannabis schools and universities opening. They are most common where the recreational use of cannabis has already been legalized, such as in Canada and several U.S. states. Some schools offer free courses online while others charge fees, varying from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best cannabis schools in the U.S. and Canada and what they have to offer.
U.S. Cannabis Courses
Clover Leaf University (CLU) was founded in 2009. It claims to be the oldest certification-issuing cannabis education institution in Colorado and the first university specializing in phytotechnology. It offers an extensive array of online courses and state-specific training. Plus, it offers more general courses that include Dispensary Management Procedures, Cannabis Cultivation 101, and Industrial Hemp Cultivation. Courses consist of a four-hour online classroom structure as well as other forms of workshops and webinars. CLU is approved to operate as a school in the state of Colorado, which may be why its certification classes are pricier than most at USD 2,400.
Cannabis Training University (CTU) has also been around since 2009 and offers a Medical Marijuana Certificate Program. Students who sign up have access to course materials for a full year, including 200 videos online. CTU also offers a Masters of Marijuana Certification for USD 597. However, promotional pricing pops up often for much less than that price. The Masters Certification includes nine certifications for one price: Laws, Budtender, Master, Business, Trimming, Medical, Career, Cooking, and Grower. However, CTU doesn’t provide hands-on training.
Trichome Institute operates out of Denver, Colorado. Its classes include Professional Interpening, Extractions and Concentrates Fundamentals, and Cannabis Consultant Training. Individual courses are USD 249 each, while course bundles run USD 399 (for five courses) and USD 479 (for nine courses). Each class is available for 180 days, so you can learn at your own pace.
Oaksterdam University, founded in 2007 in Oakland, California, touts itself as the first cannabis college in the U.S. It offers two certificate programs for USD 1,995 each in a live classroom setting online. One program centers on the business of cannabis and the other on horticulture. It also offers self-paced courses ranging from USD 295–995 and even has four free classes online. Topics include Advocacy, Pain Relief, and The Economics Behind Cannabis.
THC University is geared more to the novice cannabis student as a reasonably priced way to get the basics. It offers eight certificate programs and 150 hours of classes — with unlimited access to all its courses — for USD 187. Classes include Introduction to CBD, Terpenes Basics, and Safety Regulations for both U.S. and Canada.
Other established universities are delving into cannabis programs, as well. For example, the University of Denver now offers cannabis journalism courses. Plus, its Sturm College of Law offers classes on cannabis law. UCLA has established the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, one of the world’s first academic programs studying cannabis. The University of Washington and the University of Vermont both have cannabis programs concentrating on medicine and science. Check their websites for specific pricing on programs and courses.
Canada Cannabis Courses
Since Canada legalized marijuana for adults in 2019, Ontario has become a hub for cannabis courses. For example, Niagara College has a commercial cannabis product program. It offers a one-year graduate certificate focusing on cannabis growing skills, costing systems, research, and security protocols. College Boreal in Sudbury, Ontario, has three cannabis courses available in both English and French. And Ontario Loyalist College has partnered with Kwantlen Polytechnic University to provide a range of cannabis courses, including a Retail Cannabis Consultant certificate program. The prices of these courses vary, so please check their websites for cost ranges.
Durham College has a Cannabis Industry Specialization Program that caters to students who already hold a business degree and want to apply it specifically to the cannabis field. Fees for each class are CAD 100.
The University of Ottawa offers a program on cannabis law. It focuses on the regulations of producing and selling cannabis in Canada, including the impact on employment and labour law, property law, immigration law, and business law. And St. Francis Xavier University has partnered with THC dispensaries to give students on-the-job training in a huge facility. Students can explore new approaches to growing and cultivating cannabis.
All these schools also offer a way to network with like-minded students and professionals in the industry, which could lead to great positioning for a job. But before you invest in cannabis education, keep in mind that there are no guarantees that a certificate will get you employment. Many companies prefer hands-on experience to online learning or at least a healthy balance of both.
How to Self-Educate for Free
Don’t forget, you also can obtain a cannabis education for free. For example, Weedsmart’s blog offers guides to cannabis and CBD. They cover the history of cannabis and CBD in Canada, its different forms and how to consume them, and how various strains of cannabis affect the body. Even a simple Google search will bring up a myriad of articles on any given topic.