If you want a way to prove your credibility in the cannabis industry but are too strapped for time to commute to class, The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) has good news for you.
The extended studies program at UNR is launching the first online courses in the state to obtain non-credit certificates in cannabis education ranging from business to horticulture and medicine to help meet the demand for jobs in an area that sponsors say is “growing like gangbusters.”
Each certificate program includes three eight-week online courses offered through Green Flower, a cannabis career training company. The four programs cover the business of the marijuana industry; agriculture and horticulture; law and policy; and health care and medicine.
“It’s a new era,” said Jodi Herzik, interim vice provost for Extended Studies.
“The industry is changing,” she told the Reno Gazette Journal. “You can’t just have former potheads running the counter, you have to have educated professionals.”
Legal cannabis sales exceeded $1 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 in Nevada, where about 10,000 people work in the industry, the Nevada Dispensary Association reported. Las Vegas is projected to become one of the largest cannatourism hotspots in the United States within the next few years.
“We’ve been very careful to stress that this is strictly education about the industry because there’s a need,” Herzik said.
“With the impact of COVID-19 being displaced, and people looking for new career paths, we thought this might be the right time to try this program,” she said. “Jobs in that area are growing like gangbusters. They’re high-paying jobs too.”
Legal cannabis supports 321,000 full-time jobs nationally, growing faster than any other industry in the country, according to the Leafly 2021 Jobs Report.
“Such growth has created a large and growing job market, and a tremendous opportunity for people in Nevada to find rewarding careers,” said Daniel Kalef, Green Flower’s vice president of Higher Education.
Marijuana is still illegal at a federal level, and that includes direct research, consumption and any other direct use. A majority of states, however, have legalized marijuana in some capacity.
Nevada was the third state to approve cannabis for medical use with the adoption of the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act in 1998. Nevadans voted to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use in 2016.
UNR isn’t the first academic institution to offer cannabis education programs. Northern Michigan University started the trend when they announced their Medicinal Plant Chemistry major in 2017. Since then, multiple online and in-person cannabis programs have opened around the country, including programs in cannabis healthcare, agriculture, and legal policy. Last year, graduates of the University of Maryland’s MS in Cannabis Science and Therapeutics program became the first in the country to receive a master’s degree in medical marijuana.
Herzik said the university hasn’t promoted the program heavily so as to have a soft launch this month, allowing the school to ensure it’s a good fit and doesn’t need any tweaking.
About 30 to 40 prospective students have expressed interest so far, many from the Las Vegas area and a few from other parts of the country, she said.
The first session of online courses begins Nov. 15.
The cost is $2,950 per certificate, but the university is offering a special one-time $500 discount for students who enroll in the November launch. Payment plans are available.
Students will develop a portfolio of case studies and projects that can be used to demonstrate sector-specific cannabis knowledge, Herzik said. Upon successful completion of the program, students will earn a certificate of completion from UNR.
Courses begin in six start dates a year and are scheduled to accommodate working professionals, she said.
Enrollment is open at https://cannabiseducation.unr.edu.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.