Twenty-nine states have legalized medical marijuana, eight have legitimized its recreational use, and more approvals are in the pipeline. Just last week, Sen. Cory Brooker (D-New Jersey) introduced a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level.
But as the legal battle wages on, students see a wealth of career opportunities in the growing industry.
For student Alessandro Cesario, it was an interest in a cannabis career led him to Delaware Valley University (DelVal). DelVal offers classes on hydroponics, which is a system used to grow plants without soil and a common technique used in the cannabis industry, writes Justine McDaniel for Philly.
Although Cesario credits DelVal for "preparing him to make the jump" into commercial marijuana, the university doesn't actually teach students how to grow cannabis, reports McDaniel.
Instead, the university teaches students how to grow plants like basil and tomatoes. But "if you can grow a tomato, you can grow cannabis," says Christopher Tipping, interim dean.
While DelVal cites about 15 students hoping to build a career in cannabis post-graduation, Tipping is certain this number will increase and predicts their students will be in high demand once the job market grows.
Identify which programs to launch and how current programs can improve
In Pennsylvania's Allegheny County, "prospective weed workers" are already lining down the block for a chance to attend a cannabis job fairs, reports McDaniel.
Similarly, Pennsylvania Medical Solutions is fielding "countless" job inquires, says chief operating officer Ari Hoffnung.
As executives like Hoffnung look to hire people from different backgrounds and education levels, this budding industry presents an opportunity to establish a diverse workforce from the get-go, says Shaleen Title, partner at THC Staffing.
To improve program launch success, give marketing a voice
For students hoping to help shape this growing industry, Kurt Dyer, a DelVal graduate and grower-cultivator for a Maryland cannabis facility, recommends taking college courses and being prepared to move, as marijuana is not yet legal in every state.
With high hopes for the cannabis industry, Dyer notes that he's "ready to go wherever it takes him" (McDaniel, Philly, 8/8).
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What I learned from 23 college tours. Yes, 23.