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New York University to Launch Cannabis Course

By Alexander Beadle

Published: Dec 19, 2022   
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With US cannabis sales forecasted to grow from $25 billion in 2021 to $40 billion by 2026, it is little surprise that idle entrepreneurs might consider forging a new path for themselves in the North American cannabis industry.

And getting a foothold in that industry is set to become even easier, now the New York University School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) has recently announced that it will be offering a new Certificate in the Business of Cannabis program as a part of its continuing education program from Spring 2023.

Getting certified in cannabis

For nearly 90 years, the NYU SPS has been offering individual courses and full certificate programs aimed at equipping industry professionals with the further education that they need to advance their careers and improve their skill set.

With the new Certificate in the Business of Cannabis program, students will get an in-depth understanding of what it takes to own, manage, and market a cannabis business, while also learning more about the chemistry of the plant itself.

“NYU SPS developed this program in collaboration with industry professionals and thought leaders in the field, many of whom will also teach our courses,” June Chin, an adjunct professor at NYU, said in a statement.

Chin is an expert on medical cannabis, serving both as an advisory board member of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management and a board member of the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine. She will also be teaching the Chemistry of Cannabis: Medicine, Wellness, and Product Use course that will be offered as a part of the certificate program.

“This certificate provides a distinctive credential for those seeking to develop the skills to transition into this thriving market,” Chin added.

The certificate program features an introductory Overview of the Cannabis Industry course, which will include a visit to a local dispensary to see first-hand how the business operates. Along with the introduction, students will be required to take four core foundational courses: Managing a Cannabis Dispensary and the Regulation of Operations, Cannabis Sales and Marketing, The Chemistry of Cannabis: Medicine, Wellness, and Product Use, and Cannabis and Social Equity Policy.

Students must also take one of the five elective courses that are on offer: Cannabis Cultivation and Processing, Cannabis Supply Chain Management: From Seed to Sale; Cooking with Cannabis, Security in the Cannabis Industry, or Finance and Cash Flow for a Cannabis Business.

New York issues first dispensary licenses

The announcement of this new certificate program comes shortly after New York State issued its first batch of cannabis dispensary licenses last month, marking a significant step forward for the state’s adult-use market.

Although New York legalized recreational cannabis in the spring of 2021, the lack of officially-issued dispensary licenses meant that legal cannabis was effectively impossible to access in the state, despite the drug’s legal status.

The delay in issuing licenses combined with a growing demand for the product led to a strange kind of gray market, where some stores would “gift” amounts of cannabis alongside a more mundane purchase, such as an unusually expensive sticker, in order to claim that they were not actually selling the drug prematurely. Other stores were more blatant about their cannabis selling, signposting out to potential buyers with typical cannabis leaf-shaped signage and all the trimmings.

“None of them are compliant, none of them are allowed,” Aaron Ghitelman, a spokesperson for the OCM, previously told Vox. “They’re jumping the gun.”

New York issued 36 licenses in its first release approved by the state’s Cannabis Control Board, with eight of the licenses going to nonprofit groups. According to reports, the state is planning to issue 175 licenses in total, with many of the early licenses reserved for applicants with past convictions for cannabis offenses.

Higher education

According to a report published earlier this year, the American legal cannabis industry created more than 100,000 new jobs in 2021. And this wasn’t a one-off, flash in the pan, kind of expansion – this was the fifth year in a row where the annual job growth was greater than 27% for the cannabis industry.

With statistics like this, it is perhaps unsurprising that universities and colleges across North America have begun to offer short courses and full degrees tailored to serve the budding cannabis professional.

In 2019, Lake Superior State University, Michigan, became the first institute in the US to offer a full degree program focused exclusively on cannabis chemistry. Speaking to Analytical Cannabis at the time, R. Adam Mosey, an associate professor at LSSU’s chemistry and environmental science department and one of the key organizers of the new degree, said that the course would also touch on key issues affecting cannabis testing and safety regulations.

“Because of the legalization of cannabis, both here and in Canada, we knew there were going to be a lot of people working in this field, so there was going to be a big demand for campus work,” he told Analytical Cannabis at the time.

“If you look at traditional analytical chemistry courses, they learn instrumentation and you get to apply to different systems. Obviously, we still want our graduates to have that knowledge,” he said. “But when these graduates want to get into the workforce, the employers might say they want someone who’s worked with the cannabis matrix before, because it’s a really tricky matrix to work with.”

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find an aspect of the cannabis industry that doesn’t have some kind of professional course option available. Those looking to specialize in cannabis law, for example, can study a certificate course at the University of Denver. Those with a more medical-minded disposition might also be interested in the University of Vermont’s cannabis science and medicine certificate program. Canada’s Niagara College also offers a commercial cannabis production programme that aims to educate future master cultivators on all things related to plant nutrition, pest management, and crop health.


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