More News:

December 08, 2022

Rutgers Law to offer free courses on N.J.'s legal marijuana industry to minority entrepreneurs

Disenfranchised students most impacted by the War on Drugs are now eligible to earn a cannabis law and business certificate from the Camden law school

In an effort to expand access to careers in New Jersey's burgeoning marijuana industry, Rutgers Law is partnering with a Black-owned adult-learning program to offer its cannabis law and business certificate program at no cost to students. 

The Camden law school offers the six-month program to students hoping to learn the rules and regulations required for running a legally compliant marijuana business in New Jersey. The state legalized recreational marijuana in 2020, and began selling cannabis products commercially in April.

The university will partner with the Minority Cannabis Academy, a Jersey City-based educational program for adult learners that provides technical training and professional development for minorities and communities most impacted by the War on Drugs. In its pilot program this past summer, the school saw a 92% graduation rate and improvement in test scores by more than 230% over an eight-week course. 

"Our partnership with Rutgers Law School is an industry defining moment, in an industry that hasn't been defined," said Brendan Robinson, co-founder of Minority Cannabis Academy. "Providing disenfranchised communities with upper-echelon education, tools and resources is something that we've built our foundation on, and partnering with Rutgers Law School will enable us to continue to build on that foundation." 

The six-month program at Rutgers Law features lectures from entrepreneurs and license-holders with in-depth knowledge of New Jersey's legal cannabis industry, allowing students to learn how to succeed from industry professionals. The regular cost of the certificate program is $2,695, and includes a hybrid class structure that is primarily online, with just two in-person meetings. 

Courses are designed specifically around New Jersey's state regulations for cannabis businesses, and elective courses allow students to learn more about the environmental impacts of marijuana, as well as zoning of retail businesses and dispensaries. The capstone course requires students to create a business plan, which will receive real-time feedback from faculty. After completing the program, students are encouraged to apply for a business license or open a dispensary based on those plans.

"This partnership highlights the law school's commitment to social justice and expanding access to legal educational programs to broader communities," said Kimberly Mutcherson, co-dean at Rutgers Law School. 

The legal marijuana industry is expanding across the country as more states move to permit sales of the drug for recreational use. A study by Leafly, a marijuana news and retail website, found 428,059 jobs in America's legal marijuana industry as of February 2022. 

That number is set to grow as more states move toward legalization. During November's midterm elections, Maryland and Missouri voted to legalize recreational marijuana, joining 19 other states and Washington, D.C. in making the change. 

There are currently 30 marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey, and only 20 of them offer the drug for recreational purposes. Among those businesses, Black and brown people are underrepresented as entrepreneurs, in part because of a lack of access to the rules and regulations of the legal marijuana industry. As New Jersey expands the sale and regulation of cannabis across the state, colleges and universities have made investments in the growing industry. 

In March, Rider University in Mercer County announced its cannabis studies certificate program. The fully online course provides students with a holistic approach to learning about marijuana businesses, teaching the skills needed to get jobs in the burgeoning market. 

The four-course program explores the legal, ethical, biological, business and practical aspects of the cannabis industry. The capstone course is taught by an industry professional who provides students with information about job and internship opportunities. 

Other schools like Stockton University, Hudson County Community College and Union College have began offering cannabis studies courses and certificate programs to help support local residents as they attempt to branch into the multi-million dollar industry. 

Even in a state like Pennsylvania, which has decriminalized marijuana but not legalized the substance for recreational use, schools have seen the rise in interest and demand for courses and degree programs aimed at the expanding industry. 

Similar to Rutgers' program, St. Joseph's University started its own six-month cannabis program in 2020 in partnership with Green Flower. Students can choose different tracks of study and receive specialized instruction depending on which aspect of the industry suits their interests. Upon completion, students gain access to Green Flower's network of job and internship opportunities.