Cannabis legalisation is advancing at breakneck speed. Whether for recreational or therapeutic use, more and more countries are opting to relax legislation and allow cannabis consumption. The medical properties of the plant have been amply demonstrated, and with analysts now highlighting the sector’s enormous economic potential, all indications are that legalisation will become a reality in most countries in the world at some point.
Against this backdrop, there will be a need for qualified professionals that have the necessary skills to realise the industry’s full potential. Some countries including the U.S. and Canada are already offering sector-specific courses, and while in Europe there is no such thing as degree in cannabis, there are other ways to go about it, including more traditional study paths like agricultural engineering, law, culinary arts, chemistry and social education. Here is a selection of degrees you should study for a career in cannabis.
1- Agricultural Engineering
Because it relates directly to crop management, this is probably the most obvious option. Cannabis cultivation is a highly specialised area of agriculture, requiring solid understanding of soil quality, lighting, sexing and harvesting. With agriculture getting increasingly demanding because of the impact of adverse weather patterns and the proliferation of the growing techniques – indoors, outdoors, hydroponics or otherwise – a degree in agricultural engineering can help you get the necessary skills and knowledge to manage every aspect of a growing cycle, from sowing and watering to sustainability and the use of state-of-the-art technology. Other career opportunities include management and control of production, product tracking and innovation in processes and raw materials.
In recent years, the herb extracts market has seen renewed interest in the chemistry of medicinal plants, and lately such interest has also spread to the emerging cannabis market. Attention is now starting to be paid to the impacts -either positive or negative – of the chemical compounds in cannabis, including THC and CBD, to the empirical basis underlying the risks and benefits associated to consumption and to the soil, water and environmental conditions that best facilitate cultivation. And considering that graduates in Chemistry have also laboratory experience, chemists and chemical engineers will have an increasingly bigger say as the sector continues to grow.
This is definitely one of the degrees that goes deepest into cannabis as a global concept. Biology is the study of living organisms and the ecology around them. This includes the study of life plant with a focus on botany, horticulture, genetics, environmental quality and any other subject that might help you, let’s say, synthetise the next big hybrid strain in the cannabis world. Biology students also learn about the human body, anatomy, physiology and pathology, which can provide insight into the medical applications of cannabis as well as the science underlying it as an intoxicating plant.
Law may not involve direct contact with the cannabis plant, but lawyers are definitely necessary in the cannabis industry. In a scenario where cultivation and sale will be legal in increasingly more countries, there will be a need for professionals that can deal with patents and ensure that businesses, products and services comply with the regulations in force. And considering the many legal challenges that still surround the issue of cannabis, specialist lawyers will be just as necessary as farmers and growers. With a billion-dollar business at stake, you can be sure that skilled professionals that know how to apply the law in order to provide a stable footing for the industry will be in high demand.
5- Political Science
A degree in Political Science can help you do more than just defend or interpret the law – it can actually help you change it. Studying subjects like civic law, electoral politics, constitutional law and public administration should provide enough of a basis for taking part in law-making processes, whether as an activist, as a non-profit organizer, as a public policy researcher or even as the head of a public office. As the economic prospects of the sector become increasingly evident, there will be a growing need for consistent cannabis policies, and with a degree in Political Science you can obtain the necessary skills to guide organisations towards sensible policies.
6- Business Administration
Businesses are a key element for the smooth functioning of the economy, and running a cannabis distribution business today requires a lot more than a van, a bunch of bags and a basement for storage. You’ll also need to take care of taxes, insurances, zoning requirements, accounts receivables, competitors, local and national regulations and so own. If you want to participate in the legal cannabis market, a degree in Business Administration can help you balance all these aspects by providing you skills on organizational management, entrepreneurship, financial accounting and many other areas that are essential for creating a viable cannabis company.
7- Marketing and Advertising
For obvious reasons, cannabis is not history’s most advertised product. But legalisation and legitimisation are rapidly transforming the market, which is becoming more competitive. In California and Colorado, where legal cannabis is already part of the economy, business and dispensaries have to compete with one another. If you want to make the jump into the still green business of cannabis marketing, just learn how to create positive brand association, drive marketing campaigns or identify target consumers: prospects are that the number of potential clients will continue to grow.
8- Social Education
Despite the many demonstrated therapeutic benefits of cannabis, misuse is not without risk. This is particularly worrying among youths and adolescents, hence the need for trained professionals that can communicate the pros and cons of consumption, as well as the best ways to minimise the risks, just as it happens with other products. So if you have the ability to work in challenging situations and enjoy helping others, you should definitely consider studying a degree in Social Education.
9- Culinary Arts
Quality cuisine is a safe bet, and if you spice it up with unconventional products, the result can only be positive, also in terms of profitability. Cannabis restaurants are popping up everywhere, and in places like the U.S. and Canada, where legislation is favourable to cannabis chefs, menus offer dishes were cannabis-derived products are either part or the main ingredient of the recipe. So taking a degree in Culinary Arts can be your ticket to exploring new trends where cannabis is the main focus.
As the many studies carried out to date prove, medicine plays a major role in the cannabis industry. Health care professionals are the ones who research the therapeutic applications of cannabis and the effects the substance has on the body. But if you study a degree in medicine, you could also be required to prescribe cannabis products or to deal with poisonings or any other side effects users may experience. Specialised doctors that have a thorough knowledge of the effects and properties of the plant will therefore be much in demand.
These are just some of the university degrees that will help you make a career in cannabis, but since this is a very broad sector, there are many other options you could consider. Like in so many other industries, there will be a substantial need for professionals trained in other areas, from industrial engineers to specialised journalists. One thing is thus certain: legalisation will open the door to new exciting study opportunities.