NY Cannabis Insider is working with students at Syracuse University on a series of stories about cannabis education programs throughout the state.
As statewide marijuana legalization has started to open up opportunities for New Yorkers seeking to work in the cannabis industry, colleges and universities across the state are now offering cannabis-related courses to prepare students for careers.
Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, New York, is one such college.
Maya Greene is the cannabis program coordinator at Columbia-Greene, and she stresses that the importance of the program lies in getting people ready to work in the industry.
“Our goal is to try to get the students graduated quickly, employable as soon as possible,” Greene said.
Columbia-Greene started organizing online cannabis coursework during its fall 2022 semester for less than 20 students, beginning with a retail and sales microcredential. More recently, it began to offer another microcredential: cultivation and processing, Greene said.
Both microcredentials currently consist of three classes each across a seven-week program, with students able to choose one or both tracks. Upon successful completion of the program, they are given certifications.
Students can either take the program by itself or take it as an elective to supplement other coursework at Columbia-Greene. The cost is $639 per student plus fees, which can vary.
But even with legalization in New York State, collegiate cannabis studies programs face challenges. One challenge is that students are not allowed to touch cannabis plants when taking these courses. Columbia-Greene has figured out a way to work around these restrictions: offering its cannabis studies coursework entirely online.
“We did that intentionally because there were some concerns about offering on-campus classes that were plant-touching, like having access to cannabis to teach a cultivation class,” Greene said.
Instead of teaching how to grow cannabis or how to be a budtender, Columbia-Greene teaches students how cannabis is grown and the requirements associated with being a budtender.