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Photo from a Trichome Institute class – Lindsey Bartlett // Westword

With the continuing legalization and decriminalization trend of cannabis in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Latin America, and Australia (to name a few), more people are getting interested in what a career in the marijuana industry can do for them. But where do you start to get in to the industry? Many people got jobs through people they knew in the beginning of the green rush or marijuana boom, but now there are so many other options for getting your feet wet in the industry. Possibilities range from marijuana-driven career websites and agencies to schools and educational programs aimed at preparing students for jobs in marijuana.

What Cannabis Study and Career Programs are Available?

Cannabis schools, programs, and certifications were unimaginable twenty years ago, but not today. Marijuana-centered universities and institutes are becoming more common in the United States, and include the seminary Oaksterdam University (OU) in Oakland, California. Other schools have cropped up as well, including Trichome InstituteCannabis Training University, Cannabis Training Institute, Green CulturEd, THC University, Clover Leaf University, Cannabis Career Institute, 420 College, and Northeastern Institute of Cannabis.

What Do Cannabis Schools Offer?

Oaksterdam is the oldest of the cannabis educational organizations, and was established in 2007. OU is also a cannabis activist center, and 60-70% of its students are from outside California, with 10-20% from international locations. OU students must be 18 or older, and can expect to pay anywhere from $69 for an introductory course in marijuana to $1095 for a two-part indoor horticulture course. Cannabis Training University offers online courses including How to Grow Medical Marijuana, How to be a Bud Tender, and How to Open a Dispensary & Delivery Service in the industry. The Cannabis Training Institute can help you become a dispensary technician or take a Robbery Awareness course to prepare you for a possible issue at your workplace.

Green CulturED offers 52 courses in marijuana subjects, from running a cannabis business to marijuana law and politics. The majority (42) of the school’s courses are in marijuana cultivation, breeding, and harvesting, however. THC University out of Colorado has seven certificate programs in areas like horticulture specialist, budtender learning, cannabis business certification, and safety and regulation, with 1,580 students currently enrolled. The site offers job listings from states all over the U.S., including Colorado, California, Oregon, and New Jersey. Also in Colorado is Clover Leaf University, located in Denver and offering stand-alone course certifications in the form of short seminars or workshops.

The Cannabis Career Institute is focuses on helping people start their own legal medical marijuana businesses, and can also be beneficial for people who work for the owner of an MMJ business. CCI offers cultivation management, edibles operation, and dispensary management courses and certificates that cost anywhere from $20 to $109. To enroll, you must purchase tickets to one of CCI’s events, where you will be given the state-specific CCI book (or you can purchase it online for $40). Tickets to CCI events cost $499 for VIP ticket and the book, and just the ticket is $350. The website is confusing, if you ask me.

Choosing a Cannabis School

According to Cannabis Reports, the best overall value for a cannabis college is Cannabis Training University, which claims to have the most previous or current students in the industry and the most recognized certifications. No matter which school you choose, getting a job in the industry through previous education should always help your prospects. (If you do choose to enroll in a cannabis education based university, be aware that they cannot be accredited until the federal government passes legislation that makes cannabis legal at the national level.) If you’re considering enrollment, try to talk to people in the industry (Women Grow is a great place to start), and ask them how they got started – or which educational institution they recommend. Also, make sure that the employers you’re looking at value the education you’re about to pay for.

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