Business of Cannabis

Grasping the Business of Cannabis from Consumer to Business Plan

The Business of Cannabis program enables students to become responsible patients and employees, educated voters, prepared advocates & able business owners.  Whether you’re looking to find a job, begin a career, start a business or invest in one, students who complete this program will have a better understanding of the needs and concerns of patients and consumers, and a solid grasp on the overall business behind the plant. The program is designed to offer ways to engage in this emerging new industry and get you prepared for the risks and responsibilities you will face.

History & Law

Understand your rights, responsibilities & regulatory issues at the local, state & federal level

Business Management

Learn best practices for starting any cannabis business, maintaining good operations & employee relations

Business Startup

Identify the steps of choosing a cannabis business model and then developing a business plan.

Science & Economics

Communicate the research and debunk the myths with facts

Extracts & Topicals

Explore the extraction process & different methods of ingestion such as edibles, topicals, and vaporization

Advocacy & Action

Learn how to advocate for your business, and work with your local government & community

Business of Cannabis Courses

We offer our Business of Cannabis program in 3 formats:
14-week Semesters, 5-day Seminars, and Online

The Business of Cannabis Program is a diverse curriculum including fundamentals such as history, the law, your rights, and the science of cannabis, cultivation, advocacy, compliant cannabis business, procurement & allocation, grading & managing inventory, security, taxes, banking & intellectual property concerns. 

The Business of Cannabis Semester is 14 weeks long, comprised of 18 individual classes. Classes meet once a week on Wednesdays. Semesters are held 3 times a year, click here for available course dates.

Classes will cover topics from General Education, Politics & History, Science, and Law to Business Management, Extraction Processes, and Cultivation taught by expert instructors comprised of industry leaders, attorneys, business owners, professional growers, and extractors. 

Semester students will be provided ample time for Q&A interaction with our expert instructors.

The Business of Cannabis Seminar is 5 days long, comprised of 18 individual classes.

The Business of Cannabis Seminar is offered once a month, click here for available course dates.

Classes will cover topics from General Education, Politics & History, Science, and Law to Business Management, Extraction Processes, and Cultivation taught by expert instructors comprised of industry leaders, attorneys, business owners, professional growers, and extractors.

Oaksterdam University’s The Business of Cannabis Online Course provides the most comprehensive education available for entering the Cannabis Industry. This course consists of resources, presentations, and mastery exercises developed by industry leaders. It is designed for anyone looking to learn about the cannabis industry and what to look for to start a business within the industry. 

This course is only available online. There are no scheduled times. You may complete the modules on your own schedule, and you will have 180 days to complete the course. A certificate of completion may be printed upon successfully passing the final exam.

Click here to learn more

Course Curriculum

Click the subjects below to read the class descriptions

History and Politics of Cannabis

This class covers the earliest known applications of cannabis, as well as the political history of cannabis, touching upon the key players and policies that have shaped the movement as we know it today.

Federal vs State Law

An overview of state and federal cannabis laws, public policies, rules, and regulations, this class explores how law enforcement agencies interpret and enact these laws. Students will review their personal rights and responsibilities, as well as how to successfully interact with members of the law enforcement community.

Scientific Research on Cannabis

This class discusses key concepts surrounding the safety and efficacy of cannabis. It provides insight into how conventional medications are assessed for therapeutic efficacy and acceptable safety, and then applies these same concepts to the cannabis plant.

Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis

This class introduces the endocannabinoid and explains how cannabinoids, derived from the cannabis plant, affect this system. The student learns about the primary cannabinoids (THC and CBD), the more established clinical benefits of cannabis-based therapies, and the potential side effects. While reviewing the existing scientific literature, the class addresses the myth that long-term use negatively impacts cognition and mental health.

Introduction to Extractions

This class explains where cannabinoids and terpenes are found in the cannabis flower, describes how trichomes protect the flower, and identifies the common types of terpenes. It then reviews the history of cannabis extraction, before diving into both the classical and contemporary extraction methods that are used to create flavorful and potent cannabis products.

Methods of Ingestion & Delivery Systems

There are many ways to consume cannabis, which business owners need to understand and be able to communicate with their patients and customers. This class teaches the various types of cannabis products on the market and the methods of ingesting those products, including vaping, smoking, edibles, topicals, and more. Knowing the pros and cons of each method is crucial to having a full understanding of the cannabis industry.

Plant Science

This class describes the cannabis plant and its optimal growing conditions, taking the student through the plant’s full life cycle, from seed propagation and vegetitative growth to flowering and harvesting.

Facility Design Requirements

The cannabis plant can be grown indoors, outdoors, or in greenhouses. This class outlines all the crucial considerations when designing a cultivation operation, including location and zoning, planning, electrical safety, lighting technology, climate and odor control, and irrigation and fertigation systems.

Cultivation Financials

This class charts the financial landscape associated with commercial cultivation. Students learn why capital and operating expenditures for licensing, designing, building, launching, and operating a cannabis cultivation business far exceed the costs of doing the same for manufacturing, distribution, or retail. Students also learn about harvest cycle planning, budgeting and financial planning, and the main influences that either drive or curtail cannabis crop revenue in the market.

Regulation and Compliance

When compared to every other agricultural product, cannabis has the greatest density of regulations. Successfully licensing your cannabis cultivation operation requires an understanding of the complex relationships between local and state agencies, and the inside-out approach to permitting. In this class, the student learns about plant tracking, recycling and waste disposal, labor laws, the various agencies involved in cultivation compliance, and the types of regulatory models that have emerged.

Final Project: Cannabis Pro Forma

The Business of Cannabis Cultivation Final Project: Cannabis Pro Forma
Addressing the myriad business consideration of a cultivation operation, the student is asked to write an essay examining a five-year Pro Forma of an indoor cultivation operation.

Economics and Public Policy

This class defines basic economic concepts as they pertain to cannabis markets, such as competitive markets, supply and demand, shortages and surpluses, marginal cost, and marginal revenue. The student also gains a basic understanding of how public policy impacts markets.

The Economics of Legalization

This class defines both the legal and illegal markets that have emerged in the cannabis industry, and how those markets have evolved in states that have legislated adult-use and medical regulation. The economic benefits of the cannabis industry, namely tax revenue, job creation, domestic investment, and commercial revitalization, are used as arguments in favor of legalization and the ending of prohibition.

The New Cannabis Economy

This class recognizes the positive economic impact of emerging, regulated medical and adult-use cannabis markets in numerous states, and then identifies some of the unintended negative consequences of legalization.

The Fight Against Legalization

Reviewing in more detail the history of cannabis prohibition in the United States, this class identifies and discusses the stakeholders and policymakers who advocate against legalization and why.

Financial Barriers in the Cannabis Economy

This class identifies and discusses financial barriers that are unique and specific to the cannabis industry, and how those restrictions have impacted the evolution of the cannabis economy and kept the industry from becoming fully normalized.

Writing a Business Plan

This class defines and explains what is needed to build a strong business plan, teaching the student how to craft their value proposition, vision, and mission statements. These components then become the building blocks of the student’s business plan, informing their marketing strategy and corporate structure.

Choosing a Business Model

After reviewing the different types of business models, the student chooses whether their cannabis business will provide retail, cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution, or other services. This class then considers the costs and benefits of vertical integration.

Brand Marketing

This class establishes the student’s brand position statement, brand name, and brand persona, and then defines and explains what is needed to build a solid marketing plan.

Intellectual Property

In today’s world of brands and intellectual property, it is increasingly important for the student to have a working knowledge of copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and geographical indicators in order to protect their business. In this class, the student learns about the IP challenges cannabis entrepreneurs face in light of the federal prohibition, and the rules that vary from state to state.

Business Registration and Licensing

This class reviews how the student should register a cannabis business at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as the licensing and permits that may be required for their business depending on their state and local jurisdiction.

Financial Management

This class introduces the financial management tools necessary for a cannabis business to remain competitive in today’s market. The student learns about gross profit margin, the difference between cash flow accounting and accrual accounting, and how to interpret financial statement reports.

Employee Hiring and Management

Considering that all employees are also brand ambassadors, this class demonstrates how to organize, hire, train, and retain employees who are committed to representing the student’s cannabis brand.

Federal Drug Policy and the Supremacy Clause

This class defines drug scheduling and the Supremacy Clause, and discusses the tension between the United States federal government and the state governments that have legalized medical or adult-use cannabis.

What is Advocacy, and Why is it Important?

This class defines advocacy as a form of marketing that promotes the value of the cannabis industry, and then explains its role in normalizing medical and adult-use cannabis. The class also compares the similarities between advocacy and politics, and describes the correlation between audience and message.

Looking to the Future of Cannabis Advocacy

An overview of growing public and political support for cannabis, this final class explores the emerging mainstream and political causes for the shift while looking forward to the increasing possibility of federal legalization.

Value of Engagement and Effective Advocacy Strategy

This class establishes the responsibility of advocacy engagement and discusses strategies for effective communication.

Our Instructors

The mission of our Cannabis Business Department is to prepare students for various careers in the Cannabis Industry. Our faculty includes industry leaders and professionals who bring first-hand knowledge and expertise to the subjects they teach.

Multiple industry leaders and pioneers lend their expertise on the legal, logistical, political, and economic perspectives of working with the cannabis plant and suggest opportunities within the various businesses creating this industry.

The Student Experience

Oaksterdam provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to lead and succeed in the evolving cannabis industry. Oaksterdam is globally recognized for its experience and leadership in the Cannabis industry, with exceptional academic learning and networking opportunities.

Network & Connect

Network with peers and professionals and establish roots in the industry: 

Semester students will be provided with ample amounts of time to connect with their classmates and will have access to 1-on-1 Q&A opportunities with OU Faculty & Staff. Semesters students are also eligible to attend our Volunteer Horticulture Lab Fridays, where they can continue to network with their classmates while getting hands-on experience in our Horticulture Lab.

Text Books

The Oaksterdam University required textbooks & recommended textbooks are a great resource for both students & alumni. Students will utilize and refer to Ed Rosenthal’s Beyond Buds Next Generation and will be assigned reading homework throughout the course.


Our certifications are the most recognized and well recieved by cannabis industry employers world wide

Certification offers an advantage to graduates who want to work in the medical and commercial cannabis industry.

Enroll today or get in touch!