Business of Cannabis Semester (Self‑Paced)


This self-paced course can be done on your own time, from anywhere in the world. Simply log on and take the modules at your own pace. The course consists of the same curriculum as our Live Semester, developed by our professional faculty, and provides companion material and recommend reading you may follow to take a deeper dive. It also includes a video and resource library complete with lectures taped during our Live Classroom experience, to appeal to different learning styles. Students have 180 days to complete all the required materials and mastery exercises.

Course Overview

As prohibition comes to an end and more states legalize medical and adult-use cannabis, the industry is exploding. According to the 2021 Leafly Jobs Report, cannabis now supports 321,000 full-time U.S. jobs, averaging 27.5 percent employment growth each year since 2017. No other industry comes close.

There are a wide range of positions available in the cannabis sector, from entry-level retail, to horticulture and manufacturing. There are jobs in dispensaries, grow facilities, and extraction labs. The field is wide open for entrepreneurs who wish to get in on the ground floor and start their own business cultivating cannabis or bringing specialized cannabis and CBD products to market.

There are opportunities for ancillary industries to provide professional services to cannabis-related companies, such as media, marketing, packaging, real estate and law. There also is a need for public policymakers to set the course for intelligent, fair and equitable licensing and regulation as we write the next chapter of cannabis history.

This course offers a broad overview of the cannabis industry designed to prepare students to become responsible employees, educated voters, informed advocates and 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 industry and get you prepared for the risks and responsibilities you will face.


We begin the course by reviewing some of the foundations of cannabis, including the history of humans’ interaction with the plant and the policies which govern its production and use. We also review the efforts of the advocacy pioneers who came before us and fought for the right to access medical cannabis, and learn more about how we can continue that tradition in our personal and professional lives.

We discuss methods of ingesting cannabis and offer a research-based look at its therapeutic effects and potential side effects. We illustrate how the cannabis plant interacts with the human endocannabinoid system. The course then details the various methods of extraction for the purpose of creating cannabis products. We walk through the laboratory processes that isolate cannabinoids and terpenes from plant matter, and cover the various ways these extracted compounds can be used in products, along with various delivery systems.

After establishing a basic understanding of processing and manufacturing, we turn to how it is grown. We review the primary elements needed to launch and successfully run a commercial cannabis cultivation operation, covering a wide variety of topics such as cultivation science, design, financing, licensing, and regulations.

Then, we cover economic principles as they pertain to cannabis markets, which are heavily influenced by laws and regulations. We discuss the economic benefits and financial barriers the cannabis industry experiences. We take students through the steps of first choosing a cannabis business model, then developing a business plan around the chosen model, including creation of a brand identity that reflects the student’s vision, mission, and values.

Finally, we take that business model and put it into action, showing you how to launch and oversee the daily operations of an effective and efficient cannabis business. We walk through special licensing and permit acquisition, the value of budgeting and financial management, standard operating procedures, hiring practices, ethical operations and leadership.

Throughout the course, projects and mastery exercises ensure that the student understands the material and challenges them to apply the knowledge.

Module 1 : Cannabis History & Policies

  • Origins of Cannabis
  • Early Prohibition
  • Counterculture
  • Revolution Reaction: Nixon’s War On Drugs
  • Medical Legalization: Shifting Attitudes & State Laws
  • Post-215 Era: Adult Use & Beyond

Module 2 : Federal vs. State Law

  • Overview of U.S. Government & Legal System
  • Federal “Marihuana” Laws and Policies
  • Federal Risks & Penalties
  • Federal Laws and the Business of Cannabis
  • State & Local Cannabis Laws
  • Civics

Module 3 : Cannabis Products and Methods of Ingestion

  • Cannabis Products and Methods of Ingestion Overview
  • Scientific Research on Cannabis (add this course)
  • Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis
  • Introduction to Extractions
  • Methods of Ingestion & Delivery Systems

Module 4 : The Business of Cannabis Cultivation

  • Plant Science
  • Facility Design Requirements
  • Cultivation Financials
  • Regulation and Compliance
  • The Business of Cannabis Cultivation Optional Project
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 5 : The Economics Behind Cannabis

  • Economics and Public Policy
  • The Economics of Legalization
  • The New Cannabis Economy
  • The Fight Against Legalization
  • Financial Barriers in the Cannabis Economy
  • Economics Optional Project: Economic and Policy Landscape Analysis
  • Economics Optional Project: Cannabis Market Research
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 6 : Business Startup

  • Writing a Business Plan
  • Choosing a Business Model
  • Brand Marketing
  • Intellectual Property
  • Business Startup Optional Project: Outline Your Business Plan
  • Mastery Exercise

Module 7 : Business Management
Business Registration and Licensing
Financial Management
Employee Hiring and Management
Business Management Optional Project: Budget Your Business
Mastery Exercise

Module 8 : Advocacy

  • The Importance of Advocacy
  • Federal Drug Policy and the Supremacy Clause
  • Value of Engagement and Effective Advocacy Strategy
  • Looking Forward to the Future of Cannabis Advocacy
  • Advocacy Optional Project: Explore Advocacy Opportunities
  • Mastery Exercise

Final Exam

  • required for certification

Certification Program

certificate of completion may be printed upon successfully passing the final exam and capstone project.


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