To expand access to careers in New Jersey’s burgeoning marijuana industry, Rutgers Law is partnering with a black-run adult education program to offer its cannabis law and business certificate program to students free of charge.
Camden Law School offers the six-month program to students hoping to learn the rules and regulations necessary to operate a lawful marijuana business in New Jersey. The state legalized recreational marijuana in 2020 and began selling cannabis products commercially in April.
The university will partner with Minority Cannabis Academy, a Jersey City-based adult learner education program that provides technical training and professional development for minorities and communities hardest hit by the War on Drugs. In its pilot program last summer, the school saw a 92% graduation rate and a more than 230% improvement in test scores over an eight-week course.
“Our partnership with Rutgers Law School is an industry-defining moment in an industry that has yet to be defined,” said Brendan Robinson, co-founder of Minority Cannabis Academy. “We built our foundation on providing underprivileged communities with upper-level education, tools and resources, and partnering with Rutgers Law School will allow us to continue to build on that foundation.”
The six-month program at Rutgers Law features lectures from entrepreneurs and licensees with in-depth knowledge of New Jersey’s legal cannabis industry, allowing students to learn from industry experts how to succeed. The regular cost of the certificate program is $2,695 and includes a hybrid class structure that is primarily online with only two in-person meetings.
Courses are specifically aligned with New Jersey state regulations for cannabis businesses, and elective courses allow students to learn more about the environmental impact of marijuana, as well as retail and dispensary zoning. The graduation course requires students to create a business plan that receives real-time feedback from faculty. Upon completion of the program, students are encouraged to apply for a business license or open a pharmacy based on these plans.
“This partnership underscores law school’s commitment to social justice and expanding access to law education programs to broader communities,” said Kimberly Mutcherson, co-dean of Rutgers Law School.
The legal marijuana industry is expanding across the country as more states allow the drug to be sold for recreational use. A study by Leafly, a marijuana news and retail website, found 428,059 legal marijuana industry jobs in America as of February 2022.
That number will continue to rise as more states move toward legalization. During the November midterm elections, Maryland and Missouri voted to legalize recreational marijuana, joining 19 other states and Washington, DC in making the change.
There are currently 30 marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey, and only 20 of them offer the drug recreationally. Among these companies, blacks and browns are underrepresented as entrepreneurs, in part because they don’t have access to the rules and regulations of the legal marijuana industry. As New Jersey expands the sale and regulation of cannabis statewide, colleges and universities have invested in the growing industry.
In March, Rider University in Mercer County announced its certificate program in cannabis studies. The fully online course offers students a holistic approach to learning about marijuana businesses and provides the skills needed to land jobs in the burgeoning market.
The four-course program examines the legal, ethical, biological, business, and practical aspects of the cannabis industry. The final course is taught by an industry expert who provides students with information on work and internship opportunities.
Other schools, such as Stockton University, Hudson County Community College, and Union College, have begun offering cannabis degree courses and certificate programs to help local residents attempt to break into the multi-million dollar industry.
Even in a state like Pennsylvania, which has decriminalized marijuana but hasn’t legalized the recreational substance, schools have seen increased interest and demand for courses and degree programs for the expanding industry.
Similar to Rutgers’ program, St. Joseph’s University launched its own six-month cannabis program in 2020 in partnership with Green Flower. Students can choose from a variety of majors and receive specialized instruction based on which aspect of the industry suits their interests. Upon graduation, students gain access to Green Flower’s network of work and internship opportunities.