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Northwest Missouri State University joins ranks of other schools nationwide by offering cannabis courses

Posted at 10:34 AM, Jan 26, 2023

MARYVILLE, Mo. — The legalization of marijuana in Missouri means more cannabis businesses are popping up in Kansas City.

Leafly Jobs Report from 2021 shows there were 428,000 full-time employees in the industry in the U.S. It's a growing industry that really shows no signs of slowing down.

Northwest Missouri State University partnered with Green Flower and is now one of twenty universities in the U.S. to offer cannabis courses and certificates, so everyone can learn what goes into the plant.

"There’s not a whole lot of education around it, other than the experience of people who have been doing this for years, perhaps in their basements," said the school's Associate Provost Dr. Jay Johnson.

The process behind the curriculum for NWMSU began in 2020. School officials were supportive and said there's absolutely a need for this.

"This is not an advocacy program to help get people out of prison (and) this is not an advocacy program for people to use the drug or to take it medicinally," Johnson said. "This is just a way we can show people how this plant works (and) what are the components that people need to be aware of."

With 170 students who have enrolled, there's been no public backlash.

There are four eight-week courses available: the Business of Cannabis, Cannabis Compliance and Risk Management, Cannabis Healthcare and Medicine, and Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture.

At the end of each course, students get a certificate comparable to in Excel or coding, though much more complex.

"Just from my experience being in the industry already, I know there’s a lot that people don’t know about the plant that they think they know and this class really brings a lot of light," said 30-year-old Ben Mach, who is currently enrolled in the Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture course, while having a full-time job.

Mach is already in the industry and works for Elevate Missouri in the Harvest Department. His goal is to start his own Residential Consulting business when people in Missouri are allowed to grow marijuana at home.

NWMSU's cannabis courses are the perfect resume builder and stepping stone to help him get there.

"The more you know about this plant, cause there’s not a whole lot of information given, you know you can Google search stuff and who knows if that’s true or not," Mach said. "But, you know, working with actual instructors in the industry has just been a great learning experience."

Mach is now enrolled at NWMSU, proving everyone can do it. The virtual classes make it easy for him to work on his own time while not being too overwhelming.

The next enrollment period begins at the start of March.