Cannabis education program comes to St. Cloud State

Marijuana plants
The program's topics include: cannabis agriculture and horticulture, cannabis compliance and risk management, business of cannabis and cannabis healthcare and medicine.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News 2015

People looking to manage marijuana with expertise can look toward St. Cloud State University this fall.

Minnesota’s first cannabis certificate program is launching at the university, aimed to train people in marijuana entrepreneurship.

The completely online, six-month program is available to anyone over 18 through SCSU’s professional and continuing education department. Topics include cannabis agriculture and horticulture, cannabis compliance and risk management, business of cannabis and cannabis healthcare and medicine.

“We’re tying this in connection to laws changing in Minnesota. And it’s important that as laws change, there’s the education and the opportunity for anyone to have access to those and to do it correctly,” said Abram Hedtke, executive director with the department.

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The program’s addition comes at a time when the school is cutting programs like its theater department.

“Higher education in general has had to take [a] really hard look at what are they offering and how are they offering it,” Hedtke said.

“This is an extremely fast paced growing industry. … So that really was a piece that we looked at to say, what can we do to be at the forefront of that?”

Green Flower, a California cannabis company, is a program partner.

Green Flower started partnering with colleges across the country in 2019 and works with colleges in 19 states. They claim to be the industry leader in cannabis education in universities.

“Demand has been tremendous,” said Daniel Kalef, Green Flower’s Chief Growth Officer.

Kalef said they’ve had more than 5,000 students take part since they started and have already enrolled three students at St. Cloud State.

“Every industry has to have people who understand sales and distribution and retail operations and marketing and HR and banking,” Kalef said. “Cannabis is different for all of those things ... because it’s such a highly regulated industry.”

The program trains students on the inner workings of the cannabis industry, he said, but the programs they offer aren’t individualized to state laws.

"One kind of secret about the cannabis industry is every state tends to copy from other states when it comes to how they do things in licensing,” he said. “The state-by-state things are more about how you get a license, and less about how you operate a business or how you, you know, create a agricultural program.”

Each 6-month program costs $2,950. Students do not receive any federal financial aid because cannabis is still federally illegal. People who enroll before this cohort’s Sept. 11 start date gets a $500 discount.