A Boulder potrepreneur wants to share both his wealth and his interest in cannabis: Matt Kind, host of the podcast CannaInsider, is starting a scholarship fund to encourage students to consider a job in legal pot.
The CannaInsider Cannabis Education Scholarship will offer $3,000 in the first quarter of 2018 to a student who shows the best combination of "passion, curiosity and commitment for cannabis necessary for success in this historic, blossoming industry." The program will be ongoing and will benefit multiple students in 2018, according to an announcement from CannaInsider.
America's legal pot industry will account for $10 billion in sales in 2017, according to an Arcview report, despite only five states — Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — currently offering legal retail sales. Arcview, a cannabis investment and market research group, projects that number will reach $24.5 billion by 2021, and Kind already sees a void of intelligent young professionals getting into an industry that's only going to grow.
"We don't even have the basic foundation layer. Budtenders, cultivators, people who understand marketing from other industries — they need to come into this industry, because there's these huge, gaping holes," Kind says. "Some people are still tepid to jump over because of the stigma. I hope to push some people over the fence with this."
As host of the CannaInsider podcast since he moved to Colorado in 2014, Kind says he's noticed a swell of cannabis education opportunities, many of them cheaper than traditional university courses. "I'm plain frustrated with the industrial education complex. It's not designed to set up students for the outcomes they pay for," he explains. "Three thousand dollars could actually go pretty far if you're looking at Oaksterdam or THC universities."
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Oaksterdam University and THC University are cannabis-focused educational institutions that offer extensive courses in cannabis cultivation, laws and business. A fourteen-week, 35-credit-hour semester at Oaksterdam costs $1,295, and you can attend all of THC's online courses for $50 per month. Still, Kind says that his team will be liberal when looking at intended courses, and general horticulture and botany at a traditional college would qualify, as would many science and business classes.
Only students currently enrolled in a two- or four-year post-high-school education program in the United States are eligible, and the only other requirement is that the recipient formally enroll in a cannabis education program somewhere in the U.S. More than one scholarship could be awarded, Kind says, "depending on the quality of the applicant and how we spread out the funds."
To be considered, applicants must write a 500-word essay about their passion for the plant and why they want to learn more about cannabis, as well as list the specific classes they plan to take if awarded the scholarship. More information, along with the application form, can be found on the CannaInsider website.
"This industry's not even ultra-competitive yet; you just have to be decent at what you do," Kind notes. "That stigma around cannabis is going away rapidly, and this is where the future is."