MJBizMag May-June 2022 - 46

SALARY AND HIRING ISSUE
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A student at Lake Superior
State University participates in
a lab as part of the schoolʼs
cannabis chemistry program.
Courtesy Photo
Degree Debate
O
ne of the hottest trends in
hiring right now-removing
college-degree requirements to
make applicant pools more diverse-is
putting the cannabis industry in an
unusual position.
That's because the effort counters
another powerful trend: the emergence
of cannabis higher education.
For years, federal marijuana prohibition
kept educational institutions from
studying the plant as anything but an
illicit drug. But marijuana's fast-changing
legal status has changed all that.
Every semester seems to bring a wave
of new, cannabis-specific courses and
degree programs.
A Double-edged Diploma
The proliferation of cannabis
education comes as many industries
are reexamining college-degree
requirements.
46 May-June 2022 | MJBizMagazine
By Kristen Nichols
Cannabis industry wrestles with academic requirements
just as programs tailored to the industry flourish
Prominent labor economists point to
degree requirements as one factor in a
system that perpetuates inequality. Less
than half the U.S. population has a fouryear
college degree, and the statistic is
even lower among people who identify
as Black, Hispanic and Latinx.
Massachusetts Institute of
Technology economist David
Autor argues that over the past
four decades, labor markets have
gotten worse for Americans without
college degrees, largely because of
automation. The number of U.S.
manufacturing jobs have fallen
steadily since 1979, even as
the population has grown
by 46%. Most Americans
without college degrees, he
notes, now work in service
industries.
That's why prominent
employers looking to diversify
their teams are scrubbing degree
requirements in job postings and
interviews.
No College, No Problem
The move away from college-degree
requirements seems overdue for
marijuana veterans such as Oliver
Summers, a cannabis consultant
and former dispensary owner in
Los Angeles.
Oliver Summers
Summers knows that the cannabis
industry was built by risk-takers without
college degrees.
He jokes that his own college degree,
a bachelor's in film studies
from Emerson College, was
so irrelevant to his future
career in cannabis that he
owes his parents a refund.
Summers said cannabis
employers should remove
any mention of college
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MJBizMag May-June 2022

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