College students looking for courses next semester may have a new option, as the Denver-based Cannabis Training University's curriculum on the burgeoning pot industry is now offered in two- and four-year institutions in the United States, with plans to expand into Canada.
Online Cannabis Education, CTU's online set of courses for cannabis entrepreneurs, growers, chefs and more, is already offered at Mount Wachusett Community College and Worcester State University in Massachusetts, where recreational cannabis was legalized in 2016. But CTU CEO Jeff Zorn says he plans to expand the course to more colleges in other states.
“We saw there was going to be a need in education in colleges where the cannabis-industry education can also be included,” he says. “Students sign up because they usually want to be involved in the industry after college, whether it’s to be an assistant grower or start their own business in areas like CBD or edibles.”
Although recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado since 2012 and ten states have followed suit, cannabis business courses are still hard to find at traditional colleges and universities. Colorado State University-Pueblo's Cannabis Research Institute focuses more on scientific and medical research, while the University of Denver's Business of Marijuana course ended its run last summer.
“Giving students an online cannabis certification when the course is over can help them have a leg up in the industry when applying for jobs,” Zorn says. “They can use it to show employers their education and background knowledge on cannabis.”
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Students who sign up for CTU's program can take six courses centered around cannabis and the growing industry, from cultivation to opening a dispensary. Upon passing, students become certified in multiple areas of the industry, such as business management, regulation and more.
Although the courses seem fairly new, CTU was launched ten years ago, after Zorn went through a traumatic brain injury, which led him to try medical marijuana. He soon saw the cannabis industry's potential, he explains, and decided to take a part in educating those interested in cannabis careers. According to Zorn, CTU has enrolled 30,000 students so far, and he thinks finding a way into more colleges will help that number grow quickly.
“We have a lot of people interested, whether it’s students wanting to be in the industry, people interested for their own personal reasons, or health-care professionals looking for further knowledge,” he adds. “Our job is to just put everything together for students and have colleges offer it for them.”
The CTU classes are still non-credit courses for now, but Zorn wants to develop a four-credit course in the future, aiming for accreditation through the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Students who aren't attending a university can also take the online classes for CTU certification.