Eastern Gateway College in Youngstown, Ohio.

With the legalization of adult use cannabis on the horizon, companies and other formal educators are stepping into the space as they see the potential in the state of going recreational.

Cannabis education company Green Flower announced that they will offer an 8-week all online certificate program with Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown, Ohio. Students will earn a Certificate of Achievement after finishing the course they sign up for and will have access to job placement services through Green Flower. Courses cost $900 and are now open for enrollment.

They join other cannabis training specialists in the state such as the Cleveland School of Cannabis and LeafMedic, the latter of which offer a $500 course teaching about the endocannabinoid system, the Ohio industry, and customer care.

Nicole Fenix, educational director of the Cleveland School of Cannabis, says that the school is working to create a network of experienced professionals for the state with real world experience. Certified by the Ohio State Board of Career Colleges, Fenix says that some programs range from 3-6 months in various disciplines, with one $15,000 “executive certificate program” that can take up to a year, teaching about the business, laws, and science side of the industry. 

“It’s very important and likely that more people will join as time goes on because people in the industry will want people that know what they’re doing coming into it. They’re going to need folks that understand how it works as a medicine and knowledge of the industry at large,” Fenix says.

A former high school science teacher, Fenix joined CSC in 2018 and has been crafting the school’s curriculum and programs. She announced that the school has now received a hemp growing license from the state for classes on hemp farming that are slated to start in two weeks.

Daniel Kalef, Green Flower’s vice president of higher education, says the school approached them at a conference to establish the course. Kalef said that the company’s strategy is prioritizing community colleges as they are more workforce development oriented compared to 4-year universities.

Despite only having medical available, Kalef and Fenix both believe that more potential students will come because of possible adult use initiatives being discussed in the state. Last month, state officials and activists with The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) reached an agreement to allow a statutory initiative for adult use sales in 2023. The CRLMA accused state officials of colluding to stop it from becoming a ballot initiative in 2022 to lessen liberal-leaning turnout for the midterms. 

The most substantial legislative effort floating in the state legislature is SB261, a bipartisan bill that would greatly expand medical use in the state. The measure would let physicians prescribe cannabis for any condition from which a patient could benefit or experience relief from cannabis use.

“In general, it’s still such a new industry and with anything new, you get a lot of misinformation. Learning information will help everyone in the industry and outside of it. Having knowledgeable people behind the counter matters,” Kalef says.

Fenix believes that more people will join CSC as it becomes recreational because of the amount of jobs and potential revenue it could generate for the state. Researchers from Ohio State University believe that as much as $375 million could be generated from adult use sales per year.

“It’s an industry that is growing fast and more people want to become a part of it. Next year is definitely going to bring in a ton of new students who want to learn more about the medicinal side and the business aspect of it,” Fenix says.

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Trey Arline is Grown In’s Midwest Reporter. He was most recently with the Daily Herald, but has also reported for Vegas PBS, The Nevada Independent, and the Associated Press.