With legal cannabis creating thousands of jobs in Colorado, there's a “great demand for qualified technical personnel,” according to the CCD website. To help students make their way through an industry still tangled in social and legal challenges, the program will offer core classes on cannabis law, business management and plant botany and cultivation, as well as study of the impact on public health.
“This new, innovative program will allow our students to think critically about cannabis legislation, growing, distributing/selling, and the social impact of the industry,” says John Frost, faculty and chair for CCD’s cannabis program, which aims to expand opportunities for students through internships and hands-on experience.
While this is the state's first degreed business program, CCD isn't the first educational institution to offer courses in cannabis.
With funding and support from the state and Pueblo County, Colorado State University at Pueblo launched the Institute of Cannabis Research in 2016, the “nation’s first multi-disciplinary cannabis research center at a regional, comprehensive institution,” according to its website. The Institute, which just hosted its annual symposium, continues to publish groundbreaking research on everything from the short-term impact of cannabis use in youth to how cannabinoids react with brain activity, with an eye to potential treatment for conditions like epilepsy and Alzheimer's. CSU Pueblo currently offers a bachelor of science in cannabis biology and chemistry, and a minor in cannabis studies.
The University of Colorado Boulder is also incorporating cannabis with scientific research. CU’s Center for Research and Education Addressing Cannabis and Health (REACH) program addresses such issues as the role cannabis has played in the opioid epidemic, and how it could treat psychological disorders. In June, the university’s Leeds School of Business co-sponsored a cannabis entrepreneurship academy that offered seven Continuing Legal Education credits.
Among other canna-related courses at Colorado universities, Metropolitan State University of Denver began offering a cannabis hospitality and cooking class last year, and the University of Denver has taught cannabis journalism and business in marijuana courses. Meanwhile, the University of Colorado at Denver currently offers a cannabis science and medicine graduate certificate through the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
CCD's fall season starts August 23; the new associate of applied science in cannabis program will be offered both in the classroom and online. After completing this degree, students can continue their studies and get a bachelor of applied science in cannabis science and operations, which CCD plans to offer in the future. Find out more here.