Cannabis Courses are Increasing Across the Country, Especially on the East Coast

CannaBlog by Kevin Collins, Senior Consultant, Bridge West CPAs & Advisors to the Cannabis Industry

Cannabis education courses are popping up across the country, and Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey is in a unique position to take advantage of the increasing interest in the industry. Stockton offers a five course Minor in Cannabis Studies for current students and a self-paced online Cannabis Studies Certificate for individuals looking to enter the cannabis industry.  I caught up with Prof. Robert Mejia, Stockton Adjunct Professor of Cannabis Studies, last week to discuss the program and learn more about Stockton’s role with cannabis now and in the future.

Prof. Mejia is from Denver, Colorado and he wanted to learn more about the medicinal qualities of cannabis after a family member was diagnosed with cancer and was looking for a pain management alternative outside of opioids. This experience fueled his curiosity about cannabis, and given his proximity to the industry in Colorado, he fully embraced the business of cannabis. Prof. Mejia has written multiple books on cannabis, including The Essential Cannabis Book and the Essential Cannabis Journal. He writes for NJ Cannabis Insider and EVERCANNABIS Magazine. This background led to speaking engagement opportunities in New Jersey and to the career fair at Stockton University. While looking for an intern for his business, Our Community Harvest, he was invited to teach the cannabis internship preparation course within Stockton’s cannabis program.

The Minor in Cannabis Studies program started in the fall of 2018, and Prof. Mejia joined the University in 2019. He teaches several courses that lead to a Cannabis Minor, including: Cannabis Internship Preparation, Social Justice in Cannabis, and Introduction to Medical Cannabis. He also helped launched the CHRIS program (Cannabis & Hemp Research Initiative at Stockton) consisting of three parts.

Prof. Mejia explained, “The research initiative has three parts to it. One is to research hemp genetics and cultivation techniques and to provide education to the community, including farmers and businesses. The second is to set up a stand-alone lab to perform testing and then potentially product formulations. The third thing is to partner with non-profit organizations that work with post-prison populations that want to learn how to cultivate either hemp or cannabis.  These are all part of what we call CHRIS, the Cannabis Hemp and Research Initiative at Stockton.” Outside of the research initiatives, CHRIS offers quarterly panels on current topics of interest in hemp and cannabis.

Prof. Mejia continued, “Over the past couple of springs, we have offered a panel on cannabis hospitality and tourism. This summer we will focus on some very niche, but important aspects like security, insurance, auditing and compliance, and cybersecurity.  And then in the fall, we will look at the revised NJ rules and regulations and what that will mean for operators, businesses, and our students.  And in December, we always present a panel on hemp, where we look at what is happening with the NJ hemp industry.”

Another key component of what Stockton is doing with the program is connecting students with potential employees in the cannabis industry through their career fairs. These events are held each semester and offer opportunities for students and businesses to interact.

Prof. Mejia said, “We have networking, panels, and a number of current students and recent graduates along with outside professionals who may be looking to pivot into the cannabis space. This forum allows them to meet some of the potential companies that are hiring in the industry.”

Prof. Mejia’s enthusiasm for the cannabis industry has been equally met by Stockton University and has allowed for a great relationship.

“We also run an expungement clinic at Stockton in partnership with Atlantic City. Really, ever since I have been involved with Stockton, I have been doing a ton of work in the cannabis area with and for them, and thankfully they fully support me running the programs and I am more than happy to do it,” explained Prof. Mejia.

All of this support and collaboration has grown the program enrollment from just six students focused on minor studies to over 100 students currently enrolled in the minor. With the legalization of the adult-use cannabis industry in New Jersey and New York, Stockton will continue to educate their students and community members through various opportunities like the cannabis minor and continuing education certificate programs. For more information, please click on the links in this blog.

Kevin Collins is a Senior Consultant of Bridge West LLC, CPAs & Advisors to the cannabis industry. For more information or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact Cory Parnell at cparnell@bridgewestcpas.com or 303-651-0304.