Benchmark This!

Latest Trends Impacting Marketing and Higher Education
from Director of UPCEA's Center for Research and Strategy, Jim Fong

Cannabis Can Be Confusing!

Cannabis can be confusing, but its emergence in our society is undeniable. Is cannabis a therapeutic or a recreational drug? Is it legal or illegal? Is it a fad or is it here to stay? What role can higher education play in answering these questions, as well as educating the workforce on the science, policy and business of cannabis? The cannabis industry is relatively new to our economy. It has the potential to create new products and services and thus many new jobs, new job titles, and new ways to develop supply chains.

To keep up with market changes, institutions of higher education have the opportunity to take the lead by developing new and relevant degrees and credentials without getting too far ahead of the market. For some disciplines related to cannabis, such as bioscience and agricultural studies, experts may already exist within higher education. In areas which are rapidly changing, the volume of expertise may lie outside the academy and within corporations. Drawing similarities to coding and cybersecurity, independent cannabis education programs can be found outside higher education institutions, such as with UPCEA partner Green Flower.
Green Flower offers certificates in all areas related to the cannabis industry, such as cannabis law and policy, agriculture, and enterprise.[1] Additionally, some colleges and universities already offer certificates and degree programs. The University of Washington, Northern Michigan University, the University of Maryland, and Harvard University are just a few of the institutions that have joined the ranks of U.S. higher education offering programs within the cannabis industry.


Just like with any other emerging industry, starting a new educational program on the topic too quickly can pose many risks, but also offer significant rewards. Proper market research and well-structured advisory committees at both the degree and noncredit levels could minimize the risk in moving out too aggressively. No matter where your institution lands on this spectrum, cannabis-related certificates and degrees are well underway. With the industry forecasted to reach $52 billion globally, the education of professionals will soon follow.[2]


Emerging industry education starts somewhere. We saw it with coding bootcamps a few years ago and currently in cybersecurity and even in eSports. The cannabis industry is not far behind as acceptance is growing and applications for CBD licensure have expanded immensely over the past few years. CBD can be found in health and medical treatments, but also in beverages, oils, coffees, candies, and other products. The science will change, as will the commerce and supply chain possibilities. Grab a gummie, sit back and read on for more about this evolving industry and how higher education can be more involved.





Jim Fong, UPCEA

Lead consultant Jim Fong, the founding director of UPCEA’s Center for Research and Strategy, has extensive background in marketing at Penn State, as well as experience in private industry. Jim brings a rich understanding of the dynamics driving today’s higher education leaders, providing research-driven strategy and positioning. Jim often presents at UPCEA’s regional and national conferences, sharing vital information with attendees.

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