As dean of the School of Hospitality at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Christian Hardigree helps college students learn the field through partnerships with a full-scale brewery, event space and 150-room hotel. Now she's adding cannabis kitchen to that list.
Cannabis 101 for Hospitality, which the school taught last spring, was so successful that this semester, MSU is offering two courses that instruct students about the hospitality industry's current relationship with the cannabis plant, as well as future possibilities.
Cannabidiol Use, the more advanced class, even incorporates cannabidiol (CBD) into hands-on learning focusing on cannabis extraction, CBD food and beverage infusion, kitchen safety and plant science. Because THC is federally illegal, MSU students will practice with CBD derived from hemp — though that, too, is still banned by the FDA for human consumption in food and drinks.
"Educational institutions will have to continue to be relevant in making sure our graduates are prepared for current industries, and to me, this is a real industry," Hardigree says. "We had a lot of success with Cannabis 101 for Hospitality, so I anticipate we'll run that again. It very well may become a permanent course in our curriculum."
Both classes were born out of a partnership withMedically Correct
, a Colorado cannabis product manufacturer responsible for the Incredibles line of THC and CBD edibles and several other cannabis brands. Medically Correct executives are also instructing the courses, so students learn from and interact with current marijuana and hemp industry professionals.
"We started this here, legalization. I personally feel an obligation to pass it on," explains Kayla Brown, Medically Correct's director of legal affairs and Cannabis 101 for Hospitality instructor. "And one thing all of us have are relationships in this industry."
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Because every state with legal pot creates its own sets of laws and regulations, prospective cannabis hospitality entrepreneurs and employees have a lot to learn. Brown, who has a Juris Doctor law degree, guides students through the cannabis and consumption laws in various states with legal pot. In Colorado, for example, cannabis hospitality is legal at the state level, but local governments must opt into the law before an establishment can receive a license to operate. Many other states with medical and recreational pot ban social use altogether, with private events and venues filling that void.
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Students can attend the Cannabidiol Use class after taking Cannabis 101 or take them simultaneously, in which case they're instructed by Medically Correct's director of planning and operations, Megan Brown. Owing to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, this fall's classes will be held online, with Cannabidiol Use students sent pre-arranged kits of raw ingredients, including hemp-derived CBD, to learn how to prepare infused dishes, drinks and snacks.
"We want to get them into the cannabis industry, however interested they are in doing so," Meg Brown says. She and Kayla Brown have helped numerous students attain their state-certified marijuana industry working badges; several of those students are currently applying to work at Medically Correct.
Both cannabis classes are still accepting students for the 2020 fall semester. Hardigree says she would like to see other components of cannabis hospitality, such as massage and spa curriculum, discussed by the classes in the future.
"What are the legalities? What are the limitations? What are the concerns?" Hardigree asks. "People want to have public places to smoke, or they want to utilize products that a lot of hospitality programs are just not addressing right now."