August 6, 2019
A big challenge for employers in the nearly $14 billion global market for legal marijuana is not a shortage of applicants—but a lack of qualified applicants, according to a recent report by Quartz.
“We have one of the biggest industries developing without any trained professionals,” says Jamie Warm, co-founder and CEO of Henry’s Original, a Mendocino County, California-based cannabis cultivator and distributor.
Instead, he’s pulling staff from packaged goods industries such as liquor and fashion, where the “particular business feels like their experience translates,” he says, but there’s still a “learning curve.”
However, that’s about to change, as universities and colleges nationwide start offering courses and degrees in cannabis cultivation, distribution, and retailing.
This autumn, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, will offer the undergraduate course, Cannabis: Biology, Society and Industry. The course will explore the history, culture, pharmacology, breeding, horticulture, and legal challenges associated with cannabis in an effort to inform and stimulate new ideas towards solving these problems—motivating future plant breeders, horticulturists, farmers, pharmacologists, and entrepreneurs to be successful in the cannabis industry.
Even more in-depth is the program being offered at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. has launched a new Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to support patients and the medical cannabis industry, add to existing research in the field, and develop well-informed medical cannabis policy.
Based at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) in Rockville, Maryland, the two-year program blends online learning with face-to-face experiences, and is designed for any individual who has completed his or her undergraduate degree and is interested in pursuing a career in the medical cannabis industry.
The MS in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics is the first graduate program in the country dedicated to the study of medical cannabis. It aims to meet the needs of all individuals interested in advancing their knowledge about medical cannabis, including health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, and pharmacists; scientists and regulators; growers and dispensary owners; and policy and industry professionals.
“Medical cannabis has been legalized in 33 states, including Maryland, as well as in Washington, D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy. “This number is only expected to increase in the future, fueling a demand for an educated workforce that is well-trained in both the science and therapeutic effects associated with this medicinal plant.
She continues, “Our MS in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics has been critically designed to prepare students to meet this demand. Innovations in instructional design throughout the curriculum will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to make a positive impact on communities across the United States.”
two-year program starts in late August, which also is when the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia will offer the first of four courses in a new MBA option for students interested in studying the cannabis industry.
And in Canada, which last year became the second country in the world to legalize weed nationwide, McGill University plans to offer a graduate degree in cannabis production starting in 2020.
The growing number of colleges adding degrees and courses in cannabis (there are also online cannabis certificate programs out there) reflects a hot industry with needs for both high-level and broad-based skills, whether in horticulture, chemistry, entrepreneurship, pharmacology, policy and regulation, communication, or the law.
Jamie Warm, who has interviewed ex-employees of Nike and Tesla for jobs at Henry’s, said in an interview with Quartz that his company has just over 100 employees now and expects to double its headcount by next year. He says that in addition to management skills and agricultural know-how, there’s a need for people with startup experience who are comfortable with “tackling things at more of a grassroots level.”
There’s also the obvious challenge of attracting professionals to an industry that is not completely legal in most countries, including the United States.
Research contact: @qz