Since cannabis legalization is continuing to spread and marijuana consumption is slowly becoming an acceptable cultural norm, it’s no surprise that careers in the industry are on the rise. However, the downside to a career in cannabis is that there is no clear path to employment through education, so those who are looking to work with the plant must find alternative ways to learn what they need to know, mostly through the internet.
The University of Connecticut is one of the first schools in the country to start changing this with the addition of a new course on marijuana and working in the industry. Not surprisingly, the class – which kicks off in the spring 2019 semester – is already full, and there are more students in that one class than there are in some entire departments.
“We ran out of seats before half of the university could register for the course,” Professor Gerard Berkowitz, who will be teaching the class, told the Hartford Courant. “There’s going to be more students taught in this one class than in my department, all the professors, all the classes they teach, both semesters.”
With a background as a botanist, Berkowitz is going to teach the class, titled “Horticulture of Cannabis: From Seed to Harvest”. The class will be taught in a lecture hall with more than 400 seats and be offered to undergraduates with no prerequisites needed.
While the University of Connecticut is not the only school where marijuana-related classes are starting, they are one of few in the U.S. Most of the courses that have been developed, like this one taught by Berkowitz, are focusing on the plant itself – the ins and outs of growing and harvesting great cannabis, and possibly looking into the science of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. But, the classes are also examining what cultivators, retailers, wholesalers and business people in general will need to know to work within the budding cannabis industry.
Though all of that is important – especially in such a new industry with a crop that has only been grown illegally for nearly a century – it leaves a gap in the education. Another addition that would be useful would be medical marijuana education geared toward healthcare professionals who are recommending medical cannabis as an option to their patients. A class that covers the proven – and suggested – benefits of cannabis for various conditions, for example.
Noting the speed at which the University of Connecticut class – prepared to teach over 400 students in one semester – filled up for the first semester, it’s clear that cannabis-related education is in high demand. Now it is up to more schools to recognize these gaps in the education system, and to provide future cannabis industry workers on all levels with the knowledge they need for success.