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University rolls out cannabis education after statewide legalization

Abigail Griffith
Kent State’s Student Center is located on Risman Plaza.

New cannabis certificate programs are now offered at the university after last year’s election made cannabis legal across the state.

The university partnered with Green Flower, an online training platform for the cannabis industry, to offer four non-credit certificate programs through its Lifelong Learning initiative. The programs focus on agriculture, business, compliance and healthcare.

Prior to the Nov. 7, 2023 election, the university started exploring cannabis programs. BDSA, a provider of market intelligence for the cannabis industry, projected the Ohio cannabis market to reach $1.65 billion in sales by 2027.

“It’s not common, or frequent, that a brand new industry is born right in front of your eyes,” said Max Simon, the founder and CEO of Green Flower. “This is that moment for Ohio.”

Anticipating that result, the university locked in an exclusive three-year deal as the only public, four-year university in the state to partner with the company. 

“We did our research to find a partner that was already doing this with higher-ed in other parts of the country, and so this really aligns with our goal for high caliber educational experiences,” said Eric Mansfield, the assistant vice president for university communications and marketing. “Those are the areas that the industry is already filling in other states, are the expertise that employers are looking for.”

The goal, Simon said, is for the university to be a leader in supplying a workforce for the cannabis industry in Ohio.

“I hope that people that take these Kent State programs really get to participate fully in this brand new industry,” Simon said.

While the curricula is not state specific because, as Simon pointed out, laws in the cannabis industry vary even at the municipal level, they do cover what are considered industry best practices.

The compliance program prepares students for the heavily regulated industry. Students will learn to interact with social services, banking rules, federal guidelines and to form a risk management framework.

The business program is designed to prepare students for all levels of the cannabis industry, Simon said. Whether they plan to work as an entry level employee or in a management role, they will get a comprehensive overview of the cannabis industry, including the supply chain, compliance requirements, licensing requirements, advertising restrictions and health and safety requirements.

The agriculture program covers how cannabis is grown. And while students won’t get to directly interact with plants, they will learn how to cultivate a seed into a product on shelves.

One of the most popular entryways into the cannabis industry is through medical practice, Simon said. Because of this, Green Flower’s medical program serves those who want to understand medical uses of cannabis but also established healthcare professionals getting questions from their patients. The program covers how cannabis affects the body, using cannabis without getting high and potential medical reactions.

Since launching in 2014, Green Flower has offered its programs at more than two dozen schools, boasting an 85% student completion rate.

Currently, at least 40 students are enrolled in the programs at Kent, which are asynchronous and monitored by an instructor from Green Flower. Students can enroll at any time and move at their own pace, as well as take multiple programs. At $499 a month for six months, students can expect to pay $2,950 per certificate.

The programs, Simon is confident, are a worthy investment.

“They can take this program and become a very in-demand professional for cannabis companies to hire or to work with as a consultant or to start a business that provides these services to other operations,” he said.

Those interested in learning more about the programs can visit

Alton Northup is a campus editor. Contact him at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Alton Northup, Campus Editor
Alton Northup is a junior majoring in journalism. This is his first semester as a campus editor, and he is excited to welcome new reporters to KentWired. He previously worked as a staff reporter. This past summer, he interned for The Chautauquan Daily in western New York. Contact him at [email protected]
Abigail Griffith, Photographer
Abigail is a senior communications major. In her years in Kent, she has also photographed for Water Street Tavern and done external photography work. Contact her at [email protected].

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