University cannabis courses are not new to Colorado. Most major universities and even community colleges in this state offer at least one course related to legal pot, and the University of Denver not only offers courses in the cannabis business, but also courses in law and journalism for students pursuing studies in related fields. So far, however, DU has not offered a cannabis-specific major.
In order to create faster pathways to the cannabis workforce, DU has partnered with Green Flower, a California-based cannabis training program service. The school’s three new cannabis education courses are each semester long, but carry certifications instead of university accreditation. While this may put off DU students busy with their core courses, non-accredited training programs can be a cheaper entry point for people looking for a new career path. After all, a certification always bears the name DU.
The three current Green Flower and DU certification courses focus on the agricultural, commercial, and medicinal applications of cannabis. Online programs are currently enrolling in summer classes and are also expected to continue in the fall semester.
Although commercial and medical marijuana study programs are great, only one course will teach you how to grow the plant. To find out more about what students can expect from the agriculture and horticulture course, we spoke with Joe Barnard, Green Flower’s Head of Curriculum and Accreditation.
West Word: Cannabis cultivation is a manual trade. How do you effectively teach students about this online without physical examples?
Joe Barnard: The program teaches the basics of growing cannabis, so students understand the process from seed to sale. There are dozens of well-produced videos that show the learner what they are talking about. Also, there are many assignments that require the student to go out and learn, then come back and report back. Finally, as part of the student’s portfolio project, he cultivates his own plant.
So students are expected or encouraged to grow at home during the course?
Yes. This is part of their final project which begins the first week of the second course.
Colorado is further along than most states with legal cannabis, but cultivation practices still differ more and more. How universal are cannabis growing practices these days, and what kind of techniques should students expect to learn in the cannabis farming course?
Students learn about genetics, watering essentials, key nutrients, when to harvest, proper drying and storage techniques, and more. Although the practices differ from grower to grower, these general key practices and techniques are covered. [everywhere].
What career steps and challenges should a future cannabis cultivator expect in today’s state-by-state industry?
A potential cannabis grower must understand that there is a huge opportunity to progress and excel. Turnover is a huge challenge with growing cannabis, and understanding what is expected throughout the cannabis growing process, coupled with hard work, is a good career choice.
Cannabis sales and wholesale prices have plummeted. How do you discuss current job markets with your students and what kind of jobs should they expect to compete with certification?
Current affairs are part of the program’s weekly discussions. Students should expect to compete and excel for entry-level to management-level jobs.
Is Colorado a solid space for new or beginning cannabis growers, or should they look to other states that are newer to legalization?
Even though Colorado is more advanced, all states have a turnover problem. By having programs like this, it establishes an understanding of what to expect from them. All states are looking for new beginner cannabis growers, including Colorado.
Many of today’s commercial growers gained their experience outside of universities and high school courses. How important is a certificate or diploma in today’s commercial cannabis growing space?
By offering certificates and diplomas in universities and secondary schools, it helps to standardize the industry. Currently, one of the main problems in the industry is the lack of standards. Similar to other agriculture certificates and degrees, the cannabis one should be no different.
To what extent could some people apply these practices at home? Can this course help someone who wants to grow as a hobby at home?
Absolutely! Again, as part of their final project, students grow their own plant. They are also guided through the process, from planting the seed to drying and storing the plant, throughout the program.