This fall, Lawrence Township-based Rider University will begin offering a cannabis studies certificate program. The 100% online program provides students with the credentials and expertise to enter the legal cannabis market.
The program explores the biological, legal, ethical, business and practical aspects of the industry through four courses. The capstone course is taught by an industry professional, allowing students to gain experience and learn about future internship and job opportunities. The program is open to those interested in any aspect of the cannabis industry, with no prerequisites or previous degrees required.
“We want as many people as possible to have access to this program to help build their careers in this expanding industry,” says Dr. Sarah Trocchio, assistant professor of sociology and criminology. “As cannabis legalization continues to expand, our students will be able to enter the field with the skills, experience and connections needed to succeed.”
The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing industries with a variety of employment opportunities throughout the country. Across the United States, there are an estimated 321,000 full-time jobs in the legal cannabis industry, according to a report by Leafly, a website focused on cannabis use and education. In 2021, New Jersey became the 13th state to legalize cannabis for adult use.
“This certificate will prepare students for roles that go beyond the budtender,” says Dr. Victor Thompson, chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology. “They can work in a number of roles in the industry, from accounting and finance, communications and marketing, sales, management, public policy, law, research and development, and more.”
Studying the cannabis industry is not new at Rider. In fall of 2020, Trocchio led a special topics course called “Reefer Madness: From Panic to Profit.” In the course, she and students conducted a survey of New Jersey residents regarding their feelings about cannabis legalization, personal use and social justice implications prior to the election. Their research will appear as a poster presentation during the leading international conference in medical cannabis, CannX, in Tel Aviv.
The study was co-authored by Trocchio; Marshall Ogen ’92, vice president of business strategy at CannabisBPO; Dr. Marion McNabb, president of the Cannabis Center for Excellence; David Ritter, data scientist at the Cannabis Center for Excellence; and Shekia Scott, former director of community outreach for the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
Those interested in the program can meet with faculty and industry experts to learn more on March 24 from 4:30-6 p.m. in Rider’s Science and Technology Center. Experts attending include Ogen; Cecilia Oyediran, J.D., an associate in Foley Hoag’s national cannabis practice group; and Rita Ruggieri, CEO of HarvestWorks Farm. Registration is requested.
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