Higher education: marijuana colleges and universities

Higher education: marijuana colleges and universities
Luke Sumpter

Cannabis education is becoming a hot niche. Beyond online certification classes and even trade schools, what other offerings and studies are available?

Formal instruction in all things cannabis is spreading as fast as legalization. These days, finding an online certification course is relatively easy. But what about other kinds of courses and academic instruction? Does this exist yet? You might be very surprised.

It might seem like a joke. But going to school to learn about cannabis is a trend that is just beginning. But particularly in the U.S., new courses are popping up like seedlings. However it is likely to be a trend that catches on globally as legalization becomes, well, more legit.

What is out there now? Is there any differentiation between courses? And if looking for formal education in various aspects of the business, what options are there? Is it better (if not cheaper) to experiment a little bit in the garage and launch from there? And are there any formal degree programs for professionals?


Where do i start first?

Working with weed all day sounds like a dream to many people. So if you want to persue a job in this industry, where should you begin? Cannabis education is a booming industry. If you want to learn how to grow good plants, you can do it yourself by studying youtube videos and read books, study our growguides and ask fellow growers on forums.

For growing but also for other cannabis related courses you can of course also look for online or brick and mortar courses schools that are recommended and associated with at least one industry association. Check out their rep and get information on several options before plunking down a big check.

If all you need is a state certification, online courses might be your best option. However, if hoping to enter a more technical part of the industry, there are research centers where your interest, time and academic bent will be not only nurtured but lead to a career in a booming, global and lucrative industry.


In the world of online learning, cannabis school is establishing itself as a lucrative niche. There are many different options available, already. Most schools that offer courses have their certifications priced at an affordable price. The courses come with a wealth of instructional books and videos. As the first course started to pop up around 2009, try to find an older and established one. Longevity counts. If you take the effort to take these courses, you of course want to go on to actually work in the industry.

If your day job or location or even budget does not allow a more traditional classroom setting, online options just might be the ticket.


There are more and more cannabis related studies popping up across the United States. The gold standard so far, and the one to beat? Oaksterdam University. The school provides certifications that are reasonably priced and it was formed in 2007 as the first American cannabis college.

Other certification courses are also available and taught around the United States. This is usually the best option if looking for simple certifications, or even if you just want to learn how to grow the plant for home use. There are a wide variety of these kinds of classes now available. All you have to do is do a little shopping around and compare online research.


Business, journalism, medicine and law classes are on the uptick

Apart from dedicated technical classes, cannabis-themed offerings are also starting to pop up in all sorts of more traditional schools. This has been the case for several years. For example, Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island, began teaching one of the first cannabis law classes in the country several years ago.

More recently? Denver University’s Daniels College of Business offers a cannabis business class since the spring of 2017. It is their third cannabis class offering so far. The other two have focussed on marijuana law and cannabis journalism.

Other schools are approaching the issue in different ways. For example, the University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy has planned to begin offering certifications for cannabis dispensation. The school’s offerings will also count towards state certification. The university is also partnering with Americans for Safe Access, the largest American patient advocacy group.

And this is just the beginning. As the cannabis industry becomes established in other countries, training institutes are becoming desperately needed. In Canada, the French-language College Communautaire du Nouveau will launch a unique classroom to work program. Students will be trained to work at local companies that process cannabis into drugs. It is not decided yet if this will actually be a degree program, but that is one of the options now on the table.


The Cannabis College in Amsterdam is one option for the more internationally inclined. Founded in 1998, the non-profit teaches a range of classes. This is a learning centre rather than a diploma or degree certification program.

Beyond that, however, there are increasingly interesting if not accredited and academic choices for the dedicated student. Oxford University will begin a well-funded, prestigious research program soon, even though cannabis as medicine is still illegal in the UK.

Also make sure you look for medical research programs in places like Spain, Israel and Germany. While not at top funding speed yet, more and more universities are specializing in cannabis research. This is the best place to look for further academic training of the medical or pharmaceutical sort. And increasingly, the dedicated cannabist professional is welcomed as part of a cutting edge of medicine in more and more academic and medical communities.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter

Luke has worked as a cannabis journalist and health science researcher for the past seven years. Over this time, he’s developed an advanced understanding of endocannabinoid system science, cannabis phytochemistry, and cultivation techniques.