Miami Dade College (MDC) has announced that it will offer three new cannabis-industry-specific courses at its North Campus this year. These cannabis courses are the first of their kind in the Florida College System. And according to the announcement, these courses are just the start as the school develops its Cannabis Industry Science Specialist college credit certificate program being developed by a team of dedicated faculty members from MDC’s School of Science and the School of Justice.
The fastest-growing job market
The cannabis industry is booming now with medical marijuana being legal in more than 30 states across the US and adult recreational use being legal in 11 states. There’s no better gauge of the impact this is having on America than the fact that cannabis-related careers make up the fastest-growing job sector in the US.
Currently, nearly one-quarter of a million Americans are employed by the legal cannabis industry at what are referred to as “plant-touching” companies. This means that a company either cultivates, processes, manufactures, or sells marijuana or THC-infused products. This doesn’t include jobs created by the ancillary businesses that support the industry such as nutrient and equipment suppliers, marketing-related services, construction and trades workers, and so on.
According to a report from industry analysts Arcview Market Research, the number of people employed in the legal cannabis industry is expected to nearly double by 2021. And Florida, with its burgeoning cannabis industry, is no exception. Cannabis jobs in Florida grew by more than 700 percent in 2018, a year in which, according to industry news source Leafly.com, Florida’s cannabis companies added more than 9,000 full-time jobs.
Good money and benefits in cannabis
Although the US is experiencing a job-seekers market, the cannabis industry doesn’t appear to have a problem finding candidates. What it does have is a problem finding qualified candidates with the education and experience required to fill the explosion of available positions in the industry.
Job search website Glassdoor recently indicated that salaries in the cannabis industry range from $22,000 for medicinal marijuana delivery drivers up to a whopping $215,000 for individuals with medical and/or legal expertise. According to Glassdoor, the median salary in the cannabis industry is more than $58,000. That figure is 10.7% higher than the average job in the US.
But if you’re looking to get into one of these high-paying cannabis careers, don’t expect your standard bachelor's degree to make you competitive in the industry. Most cannabis-related jobs require comprehensive knowledge of a variety of aspects related to the industry including an in-depth understanding of the medicinal properties of cannabis, the differences between various strains of medical marijuana, and the available delivery methods, as well as knowledge of cannabis laws, which can vary greatly from state-to-state.
Salaries aren’t the only attraction for those hoping to score a job in the cannabiz. With job openings in the space growing faster than the talent pool, cannabis companies are beefing up compensation packages to attract talent from other industries.
Staffing company, ForceBrands, recently released a report comparing cannabis industry compensation packages on a national, regional, and local level with those of the food, beverage, and beauty industries. The report shows that cannabis candidates enjoy more health benefits, more time off, and more perks than most other industries.
According to ForceBrands founder and CEO Josh Wand, cannabis companies aren’t just adding on incremental headcount, they’re building from scratch. “Imagine the food industry, the beverage, the tech industry — or any industry — having to get off the ground now and build out whole teams,” said Wand whose company recently launched its HerbForce division to service the cannabis industry. “They have to build out entire organizational design structures and functional groups. Think about the demand for talent. We haven’t seen this in any space geared towards consumers in a long time. The job seekers are really in the driver’s seat right now, and they’re coming from traditional spaces like the wine industry, food, beverage, beauty, med tech, or pharma. There’s a lot of opportunity out there.”
Wand feels that cannabis is just getting started. “All these markets are just at their infant stage. There are so many new emerging players coming in. There are so few brands that have trust yet and so few businesses that are even established that I just feel like we’re at the tip of the iceberg.”
Cannabis courses at Miami Dade College
The idea for the cannabis courses was presented to the faculty in March 2019. While scoping out which Florida colleges and universities offer programs focused on the cannabis industry, it was discovered that there are only a few programs available online.
The college’s initial program includes cannabis-specific courses, hands-on opportunities, and other “contextualized” courses like botany focused on medicinal plants.
The school is also planning a lecture series that will invite nationally-established experts in the field to help guide students and the public in the understanding of the scientific foundations as well as the potential of the industry.
The new courses being offered by Miami Dade include:
Biology of Cannabis
Chemistry of Cannabis
Florida Cannabis Policy and Regulation
Students in these courses will learn about the biology, metabolites, and physiology of cannabis plants, as well as the current laws, policies, and regulations of the medical marijuana industry in the state of Florida.
The cannabis policy course debuted this summer, but the other two courses are brand new to the college. The most recent round of courses started Aug. 23 and will last 16 weeks.
“With its alignment of existing academic programs and the established reputation of excellence at the School of Science and the School of Justice, MDC’s North Campus is uniquely poised to be the very first in the Florida State College System to offer a certificate program in Cannabis Industry Science Specialist,” said Dr. Malou C. Harrison, President of MDC’s North and Interamerican Campuses. “The certificate will offer a rigorous sequence of introductory courses designed to equip students with the foundation and scientific knowledge to thrive in this emerging field and job market.”
Anyone interested in learning more about Miami Dade’s cannabis program is encouraged to visit their website at mdc.edu.