Successful entrepreneurship is characterized by adaptability. As the cannabis industry continues to expand, many skilled professionals are applying their traditional business experience and acumen to help lead companies to mainstream success. However, for those who are well-versed in business but new to cannabis, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the plant and the vertically-integrated industry can mean the difference between failure and success. Whether you are entering the realm of finance, operations, marketing, manufacturing, or investing in a licensed grow, formal training specific to cannabis plants and the industry is a necessity.
As a community, we are all still learning about cannabis with the development of new industry standards and best practices every year. An emerging field of study has formed, marking the growth of industry certificates, minors, and majors in higher education across the country. Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California garners plenty of attention as “America’s first cannabis college” with an expansive industry-focused curriculum and certifications for horticulture, business, extraction, and budtending. However, since the school opened in 2007, many competitors including accredited universities, NCA Division iii schools, and private companies have emerged with specialized training for compliance, manufacturing, business law, supply chain management, market analysis, and many other topics.
Cannabis Training University
For professionals seeking certification to help them land a specific job or promotion, the Cannabis Training University (CTU) provides a well-suited solution. CTU offers growers, cooking, career, medical, trimming, budtender, business, and master certificates. The “Master of Marijuana” certificate includes all certifications for an economical price of $249. For students who need financial assistance, CTU works with students to establish payment plans that work for everyone.
CTU also offers customized cannabis staff training for work teams. Not only does CTU help its students develop the skills they need to be successful in specific cannabis jobs, but it also teaches students how to get the job they want. For first-time growers or professionals who want to learn more about cultivation, CTU offers a 5.5-hour course on the basics, while the Growing Pro Certificate involves 23 hours of required training and a swath of optional sessions. Upon enrollment, each student has a full year to access their training.
CTU was founded in 2009 and now operates in all 50 states as well as 47 countries. Their coursework is guided by Ed Rosenthal, a highly respected cannabis expert with over a dozen published books on cultivation and social policy. His books are the only cannabis books to be reviewed by the New York Times and his expertise is continually demonstrated by his leadership in Quantum 9 and Green Aid. CTU also holds membership with the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and enjoys enthusiastic endorsement from industry legend Tommy Chong.
Green CulturED, an eLearning solutions provider, is a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, authorized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and accredited by regulators in numerous states. The program was established in Denver in 2012, the same year the state legalized recreational cannabis. The school’s programs are designed for novices, professionals, and team leaders who want access to an extensive library of cannabis education material.
Businesses can get tailored solutions for their learning needs with Green CulturEd’s three separate learning centers designed for individuals, professionals, and team leaders. Students can take a variety of courses in everything from safety and responsible vending to hydroponic growing. All programming is formatted in “micro-learning” sessions of 45- to 60-minute increments.
Green CulturED offers a social equity program for customers and their monthly “Scholarship Lottery” is available for both individuals and businesses. Individuals can receive scholarships that completely cover tuition, and businesses can receive a lifetime 50 percent discount on training services. Full prices for courses vary depending upon which learning center the customer chooses. The cost is $47 per month for individuals, $97 per month for professionals, and $147 per month for team leaders. Individual courses can also be purchased with prices ranging from $17 for a course like Analysis and Testing, and up to $597 for the Master Growing Certification.
In the realm of weed colleges, Green Flower has earned its reputation as a trusted online training platform. Established in 2014, Green Flower provides on-demand training programs for individuals and business teams. Green Flower also partners with accredited institutions including the University of San Diego, Illinois, Wisconsin, Denver, and others to prepare students for success in the cannabis industry throughout the country.
Through Green Flower’s programming, students can delve into a variety of subject areas, such as cultivation, business law, healthcare, and executive leadership. For those in search of deep expertise, Green Flower also offers the Ganjier Cannabis Sommelier Certification Program. Students in the Ganjier program learn from highly-respected names in the industry, like Swami Chaitanya, an iconic cultivator and founder of Swami Select, and Wendy Kornberg, a legacy cultivator who serves as CEO of Sunnabis Farms.
Pricing varies depending upon the program and courses each student chooses. While the Ganjier certification is more expensive, individual classes like Cannabis Fundamentals and Cannabis Patient Care are priced between $200 and $300. The certificate programs offered through university partners are generally above $2,000, but flexible financing options are available through most of the university partners. The time commitment for each program also varies. Green Flower’s Advanced Dispensary Associate Certificate takes 45 hours to complete, the Cannabis Onboarding Express program requires just over two hours, and the Ganjier certification entails a full 12 months of in-depth learning.
There is always more to learn in the cannabis industry, and the Trichome Institute designed its online programming to help cannabis professionals continue their education. Trichome Institute is accredited by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, the Department of Health of Puerto Rico, and the American Culinary Federation. Max Montrose, the founder of Trichome, took his expertise in educating medical marijuana patients and built a comprehensive educational program to enrich the knowledge of those working in the industry.
Since its inception in 2014, the school has been offering four courses: Professional Interpening, Cannabis for All, Cannabis Consultant Training, and Extractions and Concentrates. For businesses that want to educate their entire team, the school also offers Cannabis Education for Businesses. Recently, the Trichome Institute also established a Cooking with Cannabis course. The school offers prices for individual courses, bundle deals for full program certificates, and discounted group rates. The Cannabis for All course is $49 and the full program bundle is set at $399.
Cleveland School of Cannabis
As the only state-approved cannabis school east of Colorado, the Cleveland School of Cannabis (CSC) offers exclusive in-person learning opportunities as well as fully-online programming. Since 2017, the school has helped students prepare for a career in each major sector of the industry through their five areas of study. Students can choose to earn a certificate in dispensaries, horticulture, processing, industrial hemp, or the medical applications of cannabis. CSC also offers an Executive Program that incorporates all five concentrations. As an institution focused on professional growth, CSC provides each student with a designated full-time academic advisor and actively helps place students in desirable jobs upon completion of the certificate.
The certificates can be earned fully online or in-person at CSC’s brick-and-mortar location over the course of a one-year period. Tuition for the five concentration programs is $6,500 and tuition for the Executive Program is $12,500. CSC offers grants for veterans and minorities to access the program without bearing the financial burden. The Executive Program is estimated to be a 300-hour time commitment, while all other certificate programs are estimated at 150 hours.
In 2019, Stockton University founded its Cannabis and Hemp Research Initiative (CHRIS). Through their initiative, they launched a Cannabis Studies minor and a Cannabis Studies certificate. Dr. Ekaterina Sedia and Professor Robert Mejia lead the cannabis studies program at Stockton where they offer cannabis-focused courses in environmentalism, social justice, risk management, cultivation, business, law, and NRF Retail Fundamentals. Tuition for the certificate is $1,995, but students who need financing assistance can work with the university to develop a payment plan that allows them to pursue their education.
Stockton University’s Cannabis Studies Certificate is designed for cannabis professionals entering a variety of sectors in the industry, and each student’s asynchronous online program can be customized to optimize the learning experience. Students select six of the 10 offered courses to build a program catered to their goals, but each course is also available on an individual basis. Once a student has registered, they have eight months to complete the program and earn their certificate in Cannabis Studies. Stockton University is a public institution with full-time programs for arts, sciences, and professional studies.
Northern Michigan University
Established in 2020 under a partnership with Green Flower, Northern Michigan University’s Cannabis Studies program offers certificates in four different areas: healthcare, law, business, and agriculture. The Cannabis Studies program builds on the university’s cannabis-related offerings. NMU also offers a bachelor’s in Medicinal Plant Chemistry, a degree in cannabis chemistry that prepares students for success in the emerging industries relating to medicinal plant production, analysis, and distribution.
Each program is conducted fully online over a six-month time period. Courses incorporate a mixture of instructor-student interaction, student-student interaction, and general discussions on readings. The certificate costs $2,950 but loan options and installment payments are available to students. If you sign up for multiple cannabis certificates, you can save 33 percent on each additional program.
Those who complete the program will earn a certificate from Northern Michigan University, as well as membership to the GF Institute, a professional organization dedicated to promoting the highest standards of professionalism, credibility, and equity in the cannabis industry. Students will learn from cannabis experts such as Avis Bulbulyan, CEO of SIVA Enterprises, and Ian Stuart, co-chair of Wilson Eiser’s Cannabis Law Practice.