A new partnership with Tulsa Community College offers job-specific education for those who wish to work in Oklahoma’s growing medical marijuana industry.
The eight-week course was created in collaboration with a cannabis education platform called Green Flower. For a fixed cost of $750, students can study in one of three programs for dispensary assistants, agriculture technicians, and manufacturing agents, according to a press release.
Clinic professionals agreed that the wealth of knowledge that the new program would bring to the local workforce should be remarkable for patients and the industry.
“It definitely looks like a great opportunity for the future of cannabis,” said Hugo Padilla, Principal at OKind Cannabis Co. “At the moment we are hiring a bunch of people who are sometimes unqualified.”
Green Flower started the partnership with TCC, which then vetted the California-based company.
“We set out to find one school in the state that was really focused on the workforce, trying to help people get new jobs and new careers, and Tulsa Community College was really our first choice,” said Daniel Califf, vice president of Green Flower.
He said a lot of research has been done to create the curricula for the programmes.
“We’ve got input from the industry of people who run dispensaries and labs and grow operations saying, ‘These are the skills we want people to know when they come in,'” Califf said.
Devin Parham, a manager at Nature’s Kiss dispensary, said he had to learn on his own how to qualify for a job in the cannabis industry. He cited restrictions on marijuana research from the federal level as keeping the industry in the dark.
“It’s really hard to get information right, so being able to get something locally that you can trust the sources and it will give you science-based facts that I think goes a long way,” Barham said.
A press release about the new program notes that Oklahoma has the ninth largest number of jobs in the cannabis industry. The 2021 jobs report from Leafly, a cannabis investor group, shows that the industry employs more than 16,000 people.
In the past year at least, medical marijuana workers in Oklahoma may have outnumbered construction workers in the state, the report says.
“With the unprecedented growth in this industry, there is a need to develop a workforce with cannabis-specific skills,” Pete Selden, vice president of workforce development at TCC, said in a statement. “Because these programs are available on demand, this means that the individual has tremendous flexibility when doing the course.”
No other institution of higher education in the state offers training specifically created for cannabis professionals, according to the statement.
“Like other highly regulated industries, the need to have expertise in material handling, quality control, patient care, security, transportation, horticulture, and more, is vital to the success of all aspects of the industry,” Califf said in a statement.
According to the statement, Green Flower has similar partnerships with seven other community colleges in the United States.