UCR Extension Center establishes new cannabis program

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The UCR Extension Center, known for offering programs and services that help individuals advance in their careers, move into a new field or start their own business, now has an official cannabis program for anyone interested in a career in the marijuana industry. Within this program are four different focus areas in which a prospective student can choose to specialize and receive a full-credit certification upon completion: the business of cannabis, cannabis agriculture and horticulture, cannabis healthcare and medicine and cannabis law and policy. 

In an interview with The Highlander, Eric Latham, the director of Program Development at the Extension Center, stated that he and his staff are always on the lookout for new and fruitful opportunities to create educational programs that help a wide variety of individuals secure proper jobs. 

Last year, Latham recognized cannabis as one of the fastest developing industries in the state of California, as well as the Inland Empire; he viewed it as a major opportunity for people to hone their interests and start a related business or work for an existing company. “Early in 2020 I was hearing a lot about the opportunities within the cannabis industry, so I started reaching out to people on campus that were working with the industrial hemp programs,” he explained. 

Upon learning more about the trials and changeability of the industry, Latham admitted that he knew it would be challenging for the Extension Center staff to try and fashion a proper curriculum on their own. Thus, they are now partnered with Green Flower, an experienced Ventura-based organization that had been providing its own marijuana-related courses for several years prior. Working in conjunction with Green Flower has shaped much of the program content and has forged a strong connection with a group of cannabis experts to teach the classes. Looking to the future, they are also working with Green Flower to start an employer network in order to help graduates secure connections and job opportunities in the surrounding area.

According to Latham, they had actually tested this program on a non-credit basis in August and October of last year. However, the program quickly gained attention and is now one of their most popular yet. 

Interested students are able to learn more about the industry and gain practice experience that will help when looking for employment, while businesses and employers will gain more competent workers. Latham added that the benefits do not stop there. He believes that it is important to ensure that legal cannabis businesses are maintained well and have dependable employees. 

“These businesses pay taxes and keep those financial resources in our local economy,” he explained. He added, “These are positive contributions to our communities, and our state.”

If you are interested in learning more about the cannabis program, check out https://cannabisstudies.extension.ucr.edu/.

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