Grow, Gift, Repair

Western Mass college rolling out classes!

SPRINGFIELD — Seeing growing job opportunities, American International College now offers classes and a certificate program in legal marijuana, with plans to expand with a minor and a graduate school program.

“The goal of the program is to dip our toe into this area that is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Mika Nash, executive vice president of academic affairs at AIC. “There are hundreds of jobs created by it. All sorts of research. Businesses in the field and all sorts of ancillary businesses are growing.”

She said response from people interested in the courses has been strong, including when the college pitched the program at the the Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Entrepreneurship Conference in Springfield recently.

AIC has created an undergraduate initiative in the School of Business, Arts and Sciences it calls Micro-Emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program.

Its announcement follows Holyoke Community College’s announcement two weeks ago that it has created the first cannabis education center in the state, with courses focused on cultivation and other aspects of the industry.

HCC estimates that the legal cannabis industry in Massachusetts could grow to 12,500 jobs. The career search website has 157 Massachusetts marijuana jobs listings now.

The AIC program is open both to matriculated students and to those working toward an AIC degree. It has three courses, with only one, MEM2000 — Cannabis Entrepreneurship, starting in the in the spring 2020 semester.

That class will examine customer groups, products and services in the recreational market and how price, quality, competition and other factors can impact a business. Students will learn the legal background, different business models and marketing.

Another course, Cannabis Business Operations, will analyze the evolving cannabis marketplace and investigate the complexities and challenges in the industry.

The third course, Law and Ethics of Cannabis, will examine the legalization of cannabis. Discussion around the legal and ethical implications of cannabis use, its legalization, criminal activity and marketing will be explored in addition to perspectives of law enforcement, business owners and recreational users.

All three courses will be offered in a rotation starting this spring, then fall 2020 and spring 2021, AIC said.

Nonmatriculated students signing up for the classes must have a high school diploma. Each course is $395 per credit and there is a $30 registration fee. The certificate is three credits, so the total course fee is $1,215.

Students, whether they are in a degree program or not, must be at least 21 to participate, Nash said. That’s because the courses might involve tours of marijuana facilities where no one under that age is allowed access.

The proposed minor and graduate programs must go through an academic review by the faculty at AIC, Nash said. Those programs likely will focus on the medical uses and risks of cannabis and related compounds. The program will build off AIC’s existing health professions programs, perhaps with a “holistic” nursing program that also looks at Reiki and acupuncture, she said.