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A new online certificate program at Stockton University in Galloway Township, New Jersey, could open doors for students anywhere in the United States who are interested in working in the fledgling cannabis industry.

The university's Office of Continuing Studies in late April 2019 launched a new certificate program in cannabis studies. School officials said it is intended to address a growing demand for information about and training for cannabis jobs.

“Maybe it can prepare them better to enter the business of their choice,” said Ekaterina Sedia, an associate professor of biology and the coordinator of the cannabis studies program. “At the very least, we hope to introduce the students to the variety of options in the field.”

Around the U.S., investors see the business of regulated cannabis as just getting started, with considerable growth expected in an expanding medical market and more states likely to allow adult use. Educational institutions are just beginning to prepare students for the hoped-for jobs.

The online, six-course series will offer training for those interested in growing, working as medical cannabis providers, or as professionals in the business or legal aspects of cannabis.

The online, six-course series will offer training for those interested in growing, working as medical cannabis providers, or as professionals in the business or legal aspects of cannabis.

In addition to careers working directly growing the plant or dealing with patients at dispensaries, Sedia sees great potential in numerous ancillary businesses, including jobs in tech, business management, or public relations. She said she believes a potential employee who can demonstrate a working knowledge of cannabis will have an advantage when it comes to applying for those jobs.

The university launched a minor in cannabis studies for the 2018 fall semester that is open only to enrolled students. Sedia said there was extensive interest in learning about cannabis from people who were not planning to enroll as students but are interested in starting or exploring a new career.

The self-paced certificate program is offered online only and Stockton University will not issue college credits. Participants can enroll in single courses, ranging from $399 to $499, or the entire program for $1,995.

The certificate program is run through Blackboard, an educational technology company. The platform allows for interactions between the teachers and students, Sedia said, through email or a forum on the site. She said she also uses Blackboard in her face-to-face classes to post PowerPoint presentations for students.

The interactive component may be expanded, she said.

“This is all fairly new. We literally just launched,” Sedia told Weedmaps News. The program launched with three courses that are already part of the minor, with another set to be online by the end of May 2019. An existing business course also is part of the program.

Courses include “The Cannabis Industry, Understanding the Opportunities,” “Cannabis Cultivation,” “Cannabis Law,” “Introduction to Medical and Adult Use Cannabis,” “Topics in Cannabis” and “Introduction to Business,” with the business course available only as part of the complete certificate program.

So far, about 40 students have signed up for the cannabis studies minor, Sedia said, and 12 have started the certificate program, with no cap on the number of online participants.

New Jersey is one of 33 states that allow the purchase, possession, and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes with a recommendation from a doctor. It seemed likely to join the smaller number of states that allow adult use, with a package of bills backed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and the leadership in both chambers of the state Legislature. But the move fell narrowly short in the state Senate.

Now, the plan is to bring the matter to voters in November 2020, when turnout is expected to be high for the presidential election.

However, New Jersey's medical marijuana industry remains in operation, and according to Sedia, is likely to keep expanding. A state report has shown the system will need to enlarge its capacity to meet rapidly growing demand. With adult use looking less likely to happen in 2019, Murphy announced new rules in May 2019 that are expected to increase the number of medical marijuana producers even as existing operations move to increase capacity.

With a new online cannabis certificate program, Stockton University in Galloway Township, New Jersey, enables students around the world can learn about the burgeoning cannabis industry without enrolling in the university. The classes range from $399 to $1,995. (Photo by Bill Barlow)

While the new certificate program is unusual, it isn't unique. Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has a graduate certificate in cannabis medicine.

Stockton's program has drawn national interest, Sedia said, with universities in adult-use states such as Colorado and California reaching out to discuss curriculum development in cannabis.

Those interested in the cannabis certificate program may register online or call the Continuing Studies Department at 609-652-4227.


Feature image: Stockton University, which began offering cannabis studies as a minor in the 2018 fall semester on its New Jersey campus, is offering an online-only certificate program in cannabis studies. (Photo by Bill Barlow)

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