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High hopes for UNR cannabis education program

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RENO, Nev. (News 4 & FOX 11) — Extended Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno has high hopes for its new cannabis education program.

The fully online courses will be offered as four separate certificates to help students land jobs in the budding marijuana industry.

"I think the one thing we've seen with COVID is that people have been displaced from jobs. People have realized they might want a completely new career," said Jozi Herzik, interim vice provost with UNR Extended Studies. "This is an opportunity. And they're also really well paying jobs."

According to the program's website, skilled labor salaries in the cannabis industry are 11% higher than the average median salary in the US.

The four certificates being offered include:

Cannabis Healthcare and Medicine Certificate Cannabis Law and Policy Certificate The Business of Cannabis Certificate Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture Certificate

According to a report released earlier this year, cannabis sales hit a record $17.5 billion in sales in 2020, a 46% increase from 2019, with the industry creating over 250,000 new jobs.

Nevada was the third state to approve cannabis for medical use in 1998 before full recreational legalization in 2016.

And now, with cannabis lounges soon to become reality, Herzik said it's the perfect time for a marijuana educational program.

"The interest has been amazing," she said. "We've been inundated with questions and student interest."

Though the green stuff is legal in the Silver State, the university was expecting more of a pushback.

"We actually did anticipate it only because there's a negative stigma attached to cannabis," said Herzik. "It's still illegal at the federal level. So we're kind of sensitive to that."

She stressed these classes are purely educational with no sampling of the goods or actual marijuana growing.

Herzik said even though the program is online, many of the students are Nevada-based and that cannabis business owners are excited.

It's a joint effort between Extended Studies at UNR and an organization called Green Flower. They specialize in cannabis training and education across the country.

UNR will be the 13th university to partner with Green Flower.

Herzik said it usually takes a year to plan a new program, but this one came to fruition in just six months.

"Cannabis is extremely complex and highly regulated as well," said Max Simon, CEO with Green Flower. "And so for people that want to enter into the cannabis field, which is this fast growing profession, they really need to be well trained. Or else they don't stand a shot."

Simon said the programs his company has designed make the graduating students much more hireable in the industry.

Nevada cannabis industry is really growing quickly. And there's an enormous amount of growth ahead as well.

The program launches November 15. Each certificate takes six months and costs just shy of $3,000. Those who register for the first cohort get a $500 discount.

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