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Cal State East Bay is the latest college — and first in the California State University system — to offer online training certification programs for people interested in working in the expanding cannabis industry.
This month, Cal State East Bay welcomed its first cohort of students to its online offering of cannabis education courses.
Course participants can learn about cannabis in healthcare and medicine, agriculture and horticulture, business (marketing, sales and management), and risk management.
The courses were made possible through a partnership with Green Flower, a Ventura-based company that builds cannabis curriculum aimed at developing the industry’s workforce.
Green Flower has 24 partnerships with local government, business leaders and educational institutions across the U.S., including UC Riverside.
With the rapid growth of the cannabis industry, there are people who want to start businesses, work in the industry and those that are responsible for regulating the industry. That fits directly with the mission of UC Riverside’s extension programs, said Eric Latham, the university’s chief financial and administrative officer.
The school’s industry-focused courses have proved successful: 334 students have participated in the program offerings.
The latest connection to Cal State East Bay has been exciting for the company, said Max Simon, Green Flower’s CEO and co-founder.
“Northern California has been the literal mecca for forever, and to have a state institution in Northern California deciding to offer cannabis education really tells us how far the industry has come and how much more legitimate this is as a career path,” Simon said.
Nationally the cannabis industry experienced a hiring pause in 2022, according to a recent job report by Vangst, a Denver-based industry recruitment platform. It found that California shed 12,600 cannabis jobs, for a 13% year-to-year decline.
The legal cannabis industry supports about 83,000 jobs in the state.
Despite an overall hiring freeze, companies that are hiring are seeing high rates of competition. Simon said that when a job is posted a cannabis company will get 50 to 100 applicants.
“What that tells you is there’s a lot of competition, and most people, from our experience, don’t have any professional cannabis background or training,” he said.
In addition to specialized training and education, students receive a certificate from Cal State East Bay, which helps them stand out as job applicants and succeed in the complex industry, Simon said.
Prospective students have until the end of the day Friday to register for classes. Here’s what you need to know about the course offerings and financial options.
The course offerings are available to anyone 18 years and older; no admissions process is required.
The online training courses include specialization in health and medicine, agriculture, business and compliance, and risk management.
Simon said a large portion of new cannabis consumers are interested from a medical perspective. Often the person is dealing with physical pain or a mental health disorder such as anxiety, he said.
“That is someone that needs really specialized guidance and knowledge from [professionals] that understand the medical properties of cannabis, the different types and the dosages,” he said.
The agricultural route focuses on the study of the plant’s botany and genetics, as well as growth techniques that include germination techniques and proper soil composition.
Students who are interested in the business aspect of the industry can take courses in marketing, sales and management. Armed with an understanding of the fundamentals, students will also be able to explore the legal and regulatory frameworks of the business.
Those who want to learn the risks related to operating a commercial cannabis business can enroll in the compliance and risk management track.
The certification programs are each six months long and are asynchronous, an online system by which a student can learn on his or her own schedule. Each program will consists of three eight-week courses, which begin with Cannabis 101 followed by two more in the focus area that each student chooses.
Each certificate program costs $2,950, which students can pay in full or by a $450-per-month plan after an initial $750 payment.
The cannabis certificates do not count toward college credit, so they are not eligible for federal aid or grants. Scholarships are not available at this time.
Eligible students may apply for a veterans discount by filling out a request online.
The next start date of the program is Jan. 8, 2024. The school offers new course start dates about every 6 to 8 weeks.