The cannabis industry is expanding rapidly. The growth could present an opportunity for both recent graduates seeking jobs and the higher education institutions willing to prepare them.
A green gold rush in legal marijuana and its non-drug cousin hemp spreads across North America, a growing number of colleges are adding cannabis to the curriculum to prepare graduates for careers cultivating, researching, analyzing and marketing the herb.
There are all kinds of careers in the cannabis industry, ranging from greenhouse and dispensary operators to edible product developers, marketing specialists and much more, Arcview Market Research, which focuses on cannabis industry trends, projects the industry will support 467,000 jobs by 2022.
Even in states where recreational cannabis still remains illegal, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, some colleges have launched cannabis studies programs in anticipation of legalization or to prepare students for jobs in other states.
The expected boom in cannabis-related jobs has colleges responding with a range of offerings. Colorado State University offers a cannabis studies minor focusing on social, legal, political and health impacts. Ohio State University, Harvard, the University of Denver and Vanderbilt offer classes on marijuana policy and law.
Agricultural schools are also getting in on the action. The University of Connecticut is launching a cannabis horticulture program this spring.
“We’re following the market,” said Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Morrisville, a college in rural central New York that’s launching a new minor in cannabis studies in its horticulture department this year. Students work with hemp and other plants rather than marijuana, but can take internships at medical marijuana facilities, Jenkins said.
More jobs are being created in this space than in any other space in North America, with salaries sometimes more competitive than other industries.