Often labeled a “gateway drug,” cannabis will be opening new gates to business for students at Scottsdale Community College when it launches a new program this fall.
The Cannabis Business Fundamentals certificate program will feature four classes worth up to nine credits covering topics such as industry history, social equity and trends, product descriptions, career opportunities, economics, marketing, supply chain management, dispensary business planning, funding resources, regulatory environments and retailing.
“It was important that we legitimize this industry,” said Dr. Bobra Crockett, the program leader.
Cannabis classes were first given the OK in 2019 in anticipation that proposition 207 – which allows adults over 21 to possess, purchase, transport, or process an ounce or less of marijuana or five grams or less of marijuana concentrate.
“We anticipated that Proposition 207 was going to pass and when it did pass in November of 2020, we were ready to go with classes in January of 2021,” Crockett said.
Crockett spent the bulk of two years leading up to the proposition’s passage speaking with marijuana industry professionals on what they thought students should know about the budding industry.
She quickly discovered that there was a lot to learn about the blazing weed market.
The first class that Scottsdale Community launched came in January 2021 with an eight-week non-credit class that discussed the cannabis industry. School officials noticed that the classes sparked an interest among first-time college students.
“We’re seeing a lot of first-time college students expressing interest in this program and it’s encouraging that they’ve found something that they’re passionate about,” Crockett said.
Additionally, it has seeded interest in other industries for students.
“One of the pleasant surprises has been that students have realized they can be successful in college and this has been a gateway into business classes or marketing classes,” Crockett said.
With such interest generated from one course, Crockett is hopeful that the current four-course program will blaze other paths for students to wander down academically.
“Even if someone doesn’t want to go into working in a dispensary per se, there’s advertising, social media and public relations that all have different skill sets in the cannabis space,” said Crockett.
Crockett hopes this gets established in the first course, introduction to the cannabis industry, where students will get their first hit of the ins and outs of the cannabis industry.
From there, students can take courses like social equity and current issues in the cannabis industry. The latter will discuss topics like the decriminalization of cannabis and how Arizona offers social equity licenses to individuals who have prior convictions of marijuana possession.
It also will cover the legal and regulatory environment in the cannabis industry and supply chain management from seed to sale.
Although Crockett is excited about the coming curriculum, she does recognize there is still a stigma surrounding cannabis and its various byproducts.
“Cannabis is still federally a level-one drug and I think there are still concerns about what we are teaching,” she said.
Because of this, she reiterates the goal of the curriculum.
“We’re not telling people to do drugs, we’re teaching them about the business of the industry,” said Crockett. “We had to be really careful about what we are teaching and making sure that it is for educational purposes of being in the business.”
She also foresees the program growing both inside and outside of the classroom.
“We hope to add a couple more classes. Of course, we still have to go through the department of education to get that approved,” Crockett said. “We’re also discussing internship opportunities and we’re working on putting together an advisory board of people in the industry.”
For more information on both the non-credit and for-credit certificates: send inquiries to [email protected]