SAULT STE. MARIE – Lake Superior State University is offering what its President Rodney Hanley says is the first university in the nation to launch a Baccalaureate of Science degree in Cannabis Business.

Hanley, in an interview with MITechNews.Com Editor Mike Brennan, said the new degree program that will start this fall will “appeal to students of today for the jobs of tomorrow. One of the things I say on this topic is no text book that you can pull off shelf tells you what the Cannabis industry will look like in Michigan.”

The genesis of the new program was a faculty initiative, Hanley said. His provost spoke to experts in the area and learned about the huge growth potential of the cannabis industry in Michigan. They agreed the degree would appeal to entrepreneurs, future managers, supervisors and business developers to also develop the expertise on the regulatory side to run successful cannabis businesses.

Hanley acknowledged that offering the degree is controversial.

“But cannabis is legal in the state,” he said. “Hemp (cannabis without THC) is legal throughout the United States. It is unusual to have a growing industry that that has been so systematically understudied for the past 80 years. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The new cannabis degree program comes on the heels of a Cannabis Chemistry program announced earlier this year. It too will launch this fall.

LSSU is preparing the next generation for jobs, many of which are in the new legal cannabis industry. More than 60 percent of the general public support full legalization, and according to an article from February in The Boston Globe, all 2020 presidential candidates also support legalization.

In a press release, LSSU said 10 states have legalized cannabis for adult use, while an additional 33 have legalized medicinal cannabis for adults. Canada legalized cannabis in 2018. This has created the need for qualified candidates in product development, marketing, consulting, and lobbying, as well as individuals familiar with the overarching laws and policies in accounting, banking, and real estate in cannabis and hemp businesses.

In the U.S., the cannabis market is set to create more than 500,000 jobs by 2022, outpacing healthcare and technology sectors. Estimates in Michigan alone predict legal cannabis spending could surpass $1.3 billion in 2022 and employ almost 28,000 people.

In Canada, the press release said, there are an estimated at 1,700 open positions in the cannabis industry that could grow by as many as 125,000 jobs in the next few years. With the legalization of cannabis in both Canada and Michigan, there is a growing need for business leaders who have a firm understanding of the laws and policies inherent in this industry. With these changing tides, LSSU is strategically positioning itself at the forefront of this emerging market, preparing the next generation of cannabis scientists and business leaders, the press release contends.

“Preparing students for tomorrow is our goal, and with a projected annual growth rate of over 28% and sales reaching $47 billion in the next decade, LSSU Cannabis Business graduates will have the skills and knowledge to take the lead in this emerging industry,” says Lukenda School of Business Professor Ralf Wilhelms.

Within the curriculum, classes such as Cannabis Business Policy and Cannabis Economics prepare graduates to face unique issues related to state, federal, provincial, and international laws. These are evaluated and analyzed in order to plan, develop and operate cannabis businesses within legal constraints. These courses, along with the common business core courses, hope to provide graduates with the knowledge, training, and practical experience required to become successful in this burgeoning market, the press release said.

To learn more about this new program, click on https://www.lssu.edu/lukenda-school-of-business/cannabis-business/