NY Colleges Increase Cannabis Courses

Photo: Shutterstock

Higher education is taking on a new meaning in New York after the state legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Colleges and universities are adding new courses about cannabis to the syllabus to prepare students for jobs in the budding industry. And they’re not just offering tokin’ lessons on the history of weed, either.

Online Excelsior College is marketing new master’s degree courses in marijuana leading to a graduate certificate in “Cannabis Control,” as well as expanding undergraduate classes.

“We’re in the space to educate people about the cannabis industry. Cannabis will be a multi-billion industry in New York by 2025,” Scott Dolan, the dean of Excelsior College’s graduate program, told The Post.

Marijuana is expected to be sold in local stores and pot shops sometime next year.

Dolan said graduate students will learn about the complexities that the marijuana industry will have to operate in, including complying with numerous government regulations.

Aside from direct pot growers, suppliers and sellers, he said accountants, lawyers, health professionals and people in the insurance industry would benefit from taking courses that address social equity, environmental sustainability, corporate responsibility and public finance.

There are also legal issues that have to be navigated

“Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level,” Dolan noted.

Weed is also turning into fertile ground for New York’s public university systems, whose colleges offer degrees in agriculture and law, biology, medicine and business.

Currently, 10 different SUNY campuses offer courses tied to the marijuana and hemp industries.

The number of cannabis courses, certificate and training programs and degrees offered to students will “absolutely” increase to match students with new jobs in the emerging marijuana industry, said SUNY Chancellor James Malatras.

“Our mission is to provide access to students to meet workforce demands,” Malatras said in a Sunday interview.

“This is not a simple matter. This a seismic shift in the law,” added Malatras.

SUNY’s Farmingdale campus is offering a new Cannabis Production and Management Certificate, which was just approved by the state Education Department in February.

Meanwhile, SUNY’s upstate Morrisville College launched a 15-credit Cannabis Industry minor degree program, first launched in the fall of 2019,.

Stony Brook U. also offers a biology course called “Cannabis: History, Culture, Science and Medicinal Uses,” while Finger Lakes Community College’s Horticulture program just added the Cannabis Biology and Cultivation course to its track.

New York’s flagship private colleges also see opportunity in grass.

NYU’s Stern School Business started a “CannaBusiness” for students and alumni that “will provide unparalleled access to industry professionals and corporate sponsors through Stern-hosted networking events and career panels,” the school’s website says.

Meanwhile Ithaca-based Cornell University, which has a strong agricultural research program supporting farm-rich upstate, offers a course titled “Cannabis: Biology, Society and Industry.”