In a welcoming move, Kent State University (KSU) is including cannabis education for the students through a strategic partnership with Green Flower, a prominent online education platform founded in 2014 by CEO Max Simon. This collaboration, set to commence next month, is crucial for both institutions as they are capitalizing on the growing demand for well-trained professionals in the rapidly expanding cannabis industry.

Max Simon, the founder and CEO of Green Flower, shares his enthusiasm for venturing into cannabis education that blends his academic background with a lifelong medicinal use of cannabis. He states, “This is going to be a huge industry, it’s going to need a lot of well-trained people, and I have the perfect background from an educational and cannabis standpoint to play that role.” His vision has fueled Green Flower’s growth by securing valuable partnerships and raising $20 million in startup capital in 2019.

Embracing the Lifelong Learning Initiative, Kent State University will offer fully online and asynchronous certificate programs on cannabis education in four key areas – business, health care, compliance, and agriculture. These programs will cost $2,950 each and take approximately six months. The program will be open for the public to enroll in. Fostering a mutually beneficial partnership, Green Flower will share the proceeds with KSU.

This three-year exclusive partnership contract has made KSU the first higher education institution in Ohio to collaborate with Green Flower. A KSU spokesman, Eric Mansfield, revealed that the university’s commitment to tracking progress and student outcomes independently emphasizes the importance of this venture as it aligns with its goal of providing high-caliber educational experiences.

Notably, the timing of this collaboration coincides with Ohio’s recent legalization of adult use of marijuana, as indicated by voters passing Issue 2. Vice president for regional campuses at KSU and dean of the College of Applied and Technical Studies, Peggy Shadduck, highlighted the significance of this collaboration, upholding the institution as a recognized education provider preparing individuals for opportunities in the emerging cannabis industry.

The recent accolade of Green Flower as the “cannabis training/education services provider of the year” at the 2023 EMJAY Awards added a layer of credibility to this approach. As of November 9, Ohio boasted 7,081 employees in state-licensed marijuana companies. The numbers are expected to climb as the state transitions to include adult-use cannabis.

Shadduck emphasized the need for individuals to be well-informed about Ohio’s legalization, noting that the on-demand, online certificate programs cater to diverse backgrounds. Shedding light on the program’s flexibility and relevance, she added, “Trained professionals are needed to fill the jobs that are being created now and that will be created in the future.”

Although Green Flower has acknowledged the welcoming initiatives of Northeast Ohio’s Cleveland School of Cannabis (CSC), Simon hints at the difference, stating, “The reason universities partner with us is we are a turnkey system that allows schools to offer their own cannabis programs.” After awarding over 5,000 certificates with around 85% completion rates, Green Flower is working to enhance data collection on employment outcomes for its graduates in 2024.

KSU and Green Flower’s partnership shows a proactive move in academics and a fast-growing industry. This collaboration will provide a structured roadmap to individuals seeking specialized knowledge to explore career opportunities in this field. As Ohio announced a revolutionary move in cannabis regulation, the KSU and Green Flower collaboration is setting the ground for more informed professionals in the industry who can contribute to its sustainable growth.