Oakton Community College Offers a Path to Cannabis Employment

Oakton Community College
Photo By: RH. Cappacio

Twelve months ago, the idea of cannabis legalization came into reality. But who would have expected such tremendous effects across almost all sectors of the economy. In the past year, interests from auto, medicine, education, and agricultural industries have taken the center stage. Some surprise innovations and improvement of already existing cannabis products have stolen the show. Today, we are seeing different stakeholders take the cannabis craze into a whole new level. One such player is Oakton Community College who is offering cannabis courses. The education sector is one of the stakeholders who were caught by surprise. But it seems they have risen up to take up the new opportunities in the cannabis industry.

Cannabis Course Inception

Oakton Community College is now offering a bachelor’s degree in medical marijuana. Students are equipped with knowledge to become lab specialists and cannabis analysts. The two-year course is being undertaken in partnership with Northern Michigan University (NMU). The college seems to have taken the opportunities availed by cannabis legalization.

Still this year, Oakton College offered theCannabis Dispensary and Patient Care course. Graduates have the necessary skills in provision of care for patients seeking cannabis treatment. The program has received tremendous interest and more students are enrolling. According to the institution data, there are over 100 students who have enrolled for the course. “The growing diversity of the types of jobs available in the cannabis industry requires more than what our education provides … because of the variety, there are of varying levels of complexity and skills needed for the jobs,” Said the vice president academic affairs Oakton College, Lott.

The certificate program earns students direct placement in Northern Michigan University’s Medical Plant Chemistry baccalaureate program, which is a partnership between the two institutions. December 11, 2019 marked the day when the two institutions penned down an agreement to help students earn academic qualification into the emerging cannabis industry. The institution management pointed that the course was in response to the call from stakeholders for workers with relevant academic credentials. On a statement recorded in Oakton College website, Robert Winn who is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in NMU noted, “Our Medicinal Plant Chemistry program, the first of its kind in the nation, will provide students with both analytical chemistry skills and a business foundation that will make them attractive to employers or give them the tools for starting their own business.”

What Does Oakton community College Program Offer?

The course is quite extensive in its coverage to allow students to make a choice between employment and self-employment. According to NMU dean, the program focuses on business skills to help students start and manage their cannabis businesses and existing companies. According to Robin Winn, most students had interest in starting their own cannabis businesses. Apart from entrepreneurial skills, the course equips students with knowledge in cannabis biology and chemistry. Therefore, learners have comprehensive knowledge on the subject.

In an era when it is essential to understand cannabis regulations, students are also taught about existing regulations. Therefore, it becomes easy to comply with local as well as federal laws. The course takes about 2 years, but some disciplines like analytics can take more time. After graduation, the students get partial scholarship to continue with their studies in NMU. For a student to acquire the NMU program, they must attain at least a 3.0 grade-point average. The students will get a scholarship worth $5,600 in fees deduction. The amount will motivate more students to take up the course and join the cannabis industry.

Students’ View and Future Plans

The first lot of students to go through the program has indicated satisfaction with the acquired skills. According to CBS Chicago, one student by name Reese says, “I have studied cannabis and the law, pharmacology, and cannabis dispensary management; that’s an important part of the program”. The college also noted that they have plans to offer more courses in the industry. Some essential disciplines like cannabis transport and logistics are still untapped. The Oakton Community College is awaiting state approval to move forward with the course expansion.

Cannabis Revolution in Illinois

Oakton Community college has campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, Illinois. The state is awaiting recreational marijuana legalization to take effect in January 2020. The Shift in legalization will see increased cannabis business in the state and beyond. Therefore, the attempt to bridge the gap between knowledge gaps and legalization is well-timed. There was a heated debate earlier last week to stall recreational cannabis inception in the new year, but the move did not succeed. This was seen as a great achievement for the industry as each state government scrambles for the benefits owing to legalization.

The push to move the legalization to June, however, was not an opponents’ move. The opponents argued that there was no mechanism in place to ensure equality among all industry players without discrimination. After a consensus, students studying the new cannabis courses will have enough opportunities to put their theoretical skills into practice.

Conclusion

With government support for cannabis research, we expect more institutions to dive into cannabis courses. The job market is after people who have the basics in cannabis cultivation, processing, or processing. The compliance phenomenon has also got some firms in trouble. Therefore, it is understandable when they go after individuals who understand cannabis regulation in depth.

The move by Oakton Community College to venture into cannabis courses shows that there are still numerous unexploited areas in the industry. We are likely to see more innovations as well as inventions in cannabis. The industry is still in its infancy and presents numerous opportunities. It is estimated that the industry will employ over 60,000 people in Illinois by 2025.

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