The Business of Cannabis

$995

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.

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.

Module 1 : Cannabis History & Policies

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

Cannabis has been used for practical, medicinal, spiritual, and social purposes for thousands of years; it was not until the 20th century that the plant developed a reputation as a dangerous and malignant substance that needed to be stamped out through total prohibition. This lesson will explore the history of cannabis and the major role it played in the shaping of the modern world, as well as the many misguided public policies that have arisen as a result of efforts to prohibit it. We will then examine the shift in public attitude toward the plant in the 1990’s as people began to rediscover its therapeutic potential, and how that shift ultimately culminated in the passage of the country’s first state medical cannabis law, California’s Proposition 215. The lesson will conclude with a brief discussion of the ongoing push toward medical and adult use legalization in the U.S. and around the world, and the role you can play as we write the next chapter of cannabis history.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

This course is an overview of state and federal cannabis laws, public policies, rules, and regulations. The class will cover federal laws prohibiting cannabis and the risks of breaking those laws including mandatory minimum prison sentences, asset forfeiture, and collateral consequences. You will gain an understanding of the evolving federal enforcement priorities and tactics. 

In addition to federal law, this class also introduces students to state laws governing cannabis. You will understand how states prohibit or allow medical and adult-use cannabis. It includes an overview of the legal framework for regulating personal use and commercial cannabis. Upon finishing this course, you will have a grasp of the range of state cannabis laws and the licensing framework for commercial cannabis.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

Module 2 illustrates how the cannabis plant affects the human endocannabinoid system, describing both the therapeutic and potential side effects. The course then details the various methods of extraction for the purpose of creating cannabis products, as well as the methods that humans can ingest those products.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

Module 3 reviews all 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.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

Module 4 defines economics principles as they pertain to cannabis markets, which are heavily influenced by laws and regulations. The module then discusses the economic benefits and financial barriers the cannabis industry experiences.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

Module 5 takes the student through the steps of first choosing a cannabis business model and then developing a business plan around their chosen model. The module finishes with the creation of a brand identity that reflects the student’s vision, mission, and values.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

Module 6 takes the business plan developed in Module 5 and puts it into action, showing the student how to launch and oversee the daily operations of an effective and efficient cannabis business. In this module, the student learns about special licensing and permit acquisition, the value of budgeting and financial management, standard operating procedures, hiring practices, ethical operations, and leadership.

Lessons in this module:

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

Module 8 : Advocacy

Module 7 talks about advocates, who in the past risked arrest and prosecution to educate the public about the benefits of cannabis and provide medicine to patients in need. Advocates played a central role in the creation and evolution of the cannabis industry. This module defines advocacy as a form of marketing, reviews the role of advocates and organizations in normalizing cannabis adult-use and achieving meaningful pro-cannabis policy reform, and then provides strategies and techniques for engaging effectively as an advocate. The module concludes with an exploration of the recent influx of influential investors in the cannabis industry and the surprising interest from former political opponents.

Lessons in this module:

  • 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

Certification Program

A certificate of completion may be printed upon successfully passing the final exam.

 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.