The cannabis industry presents great opportunities for both recent graduates who want to start a promising career in a growing field (estimated to grow to at least 630,000 workers by 2025) and for the colleges that always seek to boost their admission numbers. After all, it’s hardly a coincidence that in 2014, the year recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Colorado, the enrollment at the University of Colorado grew by the third, while nationwide enrollment figures kept dropping.
Now, when cannabis is legal in eleven states and Washington, DC for recreational purposes and in thirty-three states for medicinal use, the University of Colorado isn’t the only one to enjoy the influx of students.
More and more colleges offer specialized majors, minors, and courses preparing their students for a career in the cannabis industry. You can take your pick because they range from botany to accountancy. Here are 10 best degrees that will help you into a career in an evergreen industry that admittedly experiences the shortage of qualified applicants.
Agricultural and Environmental Studies
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. A specialized course in cannabis farming is to be launched in 2020 within the agricultural and environmental science framework at McGill University (Canada). If you choose this path, be prepared to study everything from weather conditions and soils to hemp sexing and pollination.
However, any other solid agricultural degree has a curriculum that will give you knowledge and skills necessary to manage every stage and aspect of farming, including planting, irrigation, and equipment, varieties of indoor and outdoor growing technics to ensure better yields and potency, and such broad environmental aspects as the sustainability of growing cannabis.
Cannabis is complex and big enough to be a field of study in its own right. It mixes chemistry, biology, botany, horticulture, marketing, and finance in a curriculum that includes organic chemistry, biochemistry, soils, biology, gas and liquid chromatography, biostatistics, genetics, accounting, financial management and perspectives on society.
No wonder then, that Northern Michigan University has a specialized major that offers this holistic approach. Moreover, apart from classes, courses, and even majors, the entire trade-specific schools exist including Oaksterdam University, Cannabis College, and Humboldt Cannabis College (California).
This is not exactly a specialized degree, but versatility is its strong point. With a focus on botany, genetics, environmental quality, and with some analytical chemistry thrown into the mix, biology is a major that will channel you in the right direction.
You will also know enough about human anatomy and physiology to research the medicinal application of existing and new marijuana hybrids.
This is a broad major but the chemistry that underlies the effects of cannabis on the human body and the effects of the environment on compounds found in cannabis is very complex indeed. You will need all this knowledge to build a successful career in the industry as a researcher in governmental think tanks or an analytical chemist in business corporations. From the chemistry of the human body to the chemistry of medicinal plants – every path is greenlighted. In addition, having knowledge of cannabis chemistry is a great chance to make some extra money for living while studying. If you write in the google search bar “type my essay on cannabis” you will see hundreds of websites that offer their services which means, this type of essay is demanded.
Northern Michigan University introduced a specialized major in Medicinal Plants Chemistry three years ago.
Physiology and Health Care
Unique medicinal properties of cannabinoids that help people to combat a wide array of health conditions and symptoms without as many side effects as in opioids, for example, were the major reason for legalization. However, research continues and the use of cannabis-based treatments is very likely to expand in the nearest future. Even now medicinal marijuana helps people with chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.
With a degree in Health Care, you will be able to choose the profession of practicing physician or a researcher and make cannabinoids-related medical research, therapy, and treatment your specialization.
Pharmacy and Pharmacology
If you cannot choose between Healthcare, Chemistry, and Biology, look closer at a degree in Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Now you don’t have to choose – everything goes in one package with a promise of a lucrative position after graduation.
Pharmacy is dedicated to producing, developing and realization of medicaments and this field is probably the most promising with lots of new possibilities in on a cannabis-based medicine market and lots of new formulas to come up with and test.
A degree in Political Science will enable you to participate in the making of law and regulations – and in the case of newly legalized marijuana there is a lot to change, create, and balance. Cannabis will keep generating many hot-button topics and public issues for some years to come.
Therefore, if you feel the desire to make regulations fair and consistent, here is your chance to take an active part in this process. Political Science degree will give you the knowledge necessary to act as a public policy researcher or to take a position in a public office. If you plan to be an activist, a lobbyist or a nonprofit organizer, you will also need this solid base to back up your agenda.
Law and criminal justice
Regulations considering cannabis is the area that is constantly shifting right now and are largely inconsistent from state to state. Still, this does prevent the University of Denver from having a Cannabis Law course in their Strum College of Law. The course is available since 2015 and offers lessons on the ethics of representing a marijuana client and precedents of the legal battles between states and the federal government over cannabis.
Harvard, Vanderbilt University, and Ohio State University also offer classes on marijuana policy and law. However, Law degree from any other college will be welcome, since $75 billion business industry will need many legal researchers, lawyers, and law enforcement personnel for developing consistent and fair policies.
A degree in business administration will come in handy if you wish to run a legal cannabis company. Although the industry is booming and offers many opportunities, businesses in this sector will face many challenges concerning taxation, logistics, state and federal regulations, etc., since many things will be unprecedented.
Therefore, be prepared that even with a thorough knowledge of organizational management, business law, entrepreneurship, financial accounting, and everything there is to know to run a successful company, you will have to pave the way and innovate.
This one is promising since recreational marijuana is a blue ocean market and ways to brand and sell it are understandably uncharted territory. You might think that marketing specialists will be superfluous, since weed sells itself, right? However, competition in this green market is already noticeable and will only continue to grow.
Therefore, identifying key target demographics, coming up with new ways of positioning that do not involve well-thumbed hippie esthetics, inventing new products (Canni-bears? Hot Pot Chocolate? Weed Candles?) and creating positive brand associations will be a challenge even with all the knowledge that degree in marketing will give you – and boy, will you need it.
Sophia Gardner is an educator, freelance writer, and a vocational consultant, who encourages people to embrace changes and always see them as opportunities.