As legal cannabis gains widespread traction, Missouri colleges prepare students for the promising future. Universities in Missouri are now offering cannabis courses for those seeking legal education.
Embracing the Need for Cannabis Courses
With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Missouri comes a rising demand for skilled professionals in cannabis-related fields. This demand is prompting educational institutions to introduce new cannabis programs and courses to meet this demand.
Karina Hernandez, a biology degree holder, recently enrolled in horticulture courses at St. Louis Community College at Meramec. Surprisingly, she found classes dedicated to hemp and cannabis cultivation. Hernandez expressed her excitement with her current reality of being at the forefront of the expanding and practical cannabis industry. This sentiment was echoed by many of her classmates. As with Hernandez and her colleagues at St. Louis, students (particularly in plant science) are increasingly showing interest in the cannabis plant.
A Response to Industry Growth
The rising interest in this new field of study meets with a corresponding expansion of cannabis certificate programs in Missouri. While many of these programs are available online, some institutions, like Meramec, offer hands-on practicals with hemp plants.
A significant milestone was achieved this semester, as Truman State University, Kirksville, launched a bachelor degree program in cannabis and natural medicines. The cannabis community has welcomed this move, commending the institution for creating an opportunity to usher in fresh cannabis experts into the expanding workforce.
Job Opportunities in the Cannabis Sector
Missouri’s recreational marijuana sales have averaged around $120 million per month since March. These sales are likely to surpass the $1 billion mark in its first year. This significant growth means a substantial increase in job opportunities within the cannabis sector.
Since the state’s recreational use legalization vote in November, licensed marijuana employees have risen by almost 8,000, reaching a total of 17,615 statewide in August. Companies are actively seeking new talents, frequently recruiting students even before the completion of their programs.
Advanced Cannabis Courses and Certifications
Missouri colleges have been front-liners in preparing skilled labor for the industry through advanced cannabis education and certification.
For instance, St. Louis University, in partnership with BeLeaf Medical (a pioneering medical marijuana company in the state), launched online cannabis certificate programs in 2020. These programs have gained widespread attention, featuring seasoned cannabis enthusiasts, including renowned professionals like Kayla Brown, a director at Vibe Cannabis in St. Louis. The courses provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the industry in order to prepare them for various career paths.
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Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City recently joined the fray. In collaboration with Green Flower, California-based company, the college offers students certificates in cannabis cultivation, retail, and product development. These setups allow students to work directly with hemp plants, equipping them with firsthand cannabis experience.
Regulatory Challenges and Department Approval
However, due to federal anti-marijuana regulations, these institutions who receive federal funding are restricted from using marijuana plants for instructional purposes.
But since the 2018 farm bill permits hemp, the program uses only the hemp variant of cannabis for its practical sessions.
While these cannabis courses are gaining traction, they must also receive approval from the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. Currently, only Truman’s program and Southeast Missouri State University’s in Cape Girardeau have gained the department’s approval. Other institutions like Southwest integrate cannabis and horticulture options within their agribusiness bachelor program.
In her bid to stand out, Truman focuses not only on cannabis but also on natural medicine and holistic healing. This approach prepares students to explore the scientific, cultural, and legal aspects of natural medicines, aligning with a growing interest in plant-based therapies.
Jeff Rowse is one of the beneficiary of Saint Louis University cannabis program, with two degrees, Saint Louis University Cannabis Science and Operations Certificate and Medical Science and Therapeutic Management Certificate. His passion for the science of cannabis made him consider this career path. For Rowse, the program’s tuition is worth it. He currently works as a budtender, runs a podcast, and will be one of the lecturers at SLU in the fall.
In his words to KSDK, Rowse said, “it reawakened a fire in me that I had not had anything to fuel…I knew it was cannabis, but I never had the opportunity.
Missouri’s Colleges Contributing to a Flourishing Cannabis Job Market
The cannabis industry is rapidly evolving. Missouri’s colleges are welcoming the growth by providing education and training for students to excel in this dynamic field. As marijuana sales continue to soar, these institutions are playing a crucial role in supplying the workforce with well-prepared graduates.
The cannabis industry’s expansion shows no signs of slowing down. With the fast-paced growth comes an increasing demand for qualified professionals. As more states embrace legalization, the cannabis job market is set to flourish. The market is projected to introduce a wide range of opportunities from cultivation and retail to extraction and management. Students who enroll in cannabis courses today are positioning themselves for promising careers in a rapidly growing industry.
Currently, 18 other higher institutions across the country offer similar cannabis training and certifications.
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