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Back to school: COVID-19 boosts cannabis college enrollment

Updated: Sep 14



Many industries have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have closed, and many colleges have eliminated their on-campus accessibility. COVID has hit the world hard, and the impact will be felt long-term – changing the shape of our world.

At the beginning of the pandemic, cannabis was deemed an essential business and the number of people seeking education from cannabis college has grown.


  • Jeff Zorn, CEO of Cannabis Training University (CTU), the world’s largest online Cannabis College, says that CTU is registering 1,000 new students per month.

  • Statista, an online portal for statistics, reported that on March 16, 2020, sales of recreational Cannabis during Covid-19 in California, increased around 159% compared to the same day in 2019. Sales in Washington state and Colorado also increased by around 100% and 46% on the same day.

  • According to Headset, provider of retail and market insights for cannabis retailers, cannabis sales in the United States spiked in mid-March, with sales growth peaking at 64%.


With other industries suffering, people are seeing cannabis as an industry rich with opportunity and are flocking to cannabis training programs. The back-to-school trend makes sense. As more states move toward legalization, the industry will continue to grow, creating a demand for employees and staff with a variety of skills. It’s no surprise that cannabis college, CTU, has seen 108% spike in enrollments over the summer. 


What is Cannabis Training University?



CTU is the first and oldest online cannabis college and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. It was created to provide comprehensive cannabis education to students across the globe. Some could even say they were ahead of the curve with virtual learning. With CTU, students no longer have to live in a legal cannabis state to get cutting-edge information and instruction because it’s all online.


CEO Jeff Zorn has been the driving force behind CTU, which has trained and certified thousands of students from more than 20 countries. Their model makes it possible to live on any continent and immerse yourself in cannabis education.


Zorn, who suffered a traumatic brain injury that he used cannabis to recover from, left corporate medical sales in 2009 and launched CTU. He’s a graduate of the school himself.

Since the pandemic, his school is seeing enrollments jump from 500 students a month to 1,000 students a month, with the most enrollments in the United States and Canada. In the future, Jeff expects to see another spike saying that,

“As people look for alternatives [during COVID-19], as people continue to lose their jobs in other sectors, and as people continue to witness the boom in the cannabis industry, these figures will increase.”

CTU also offers staff training for businesses in the cannabis industry. Business owners can enroll their employees in the Cannabis Training University staff training program or request a custom program to be built just for them.


Can a cannabis certificate help you get a cannabis job?


It’s important to note a couple of sad truths. Cannabis is federally illegal so cannabis colleges are generally unaccredited. Because of that, students cannot apply for grants/government student loans to pay for tuition. And, while those with cannabis-related convictions can attend cannabis colleges, they may find it difficult to land a job in the industry due to their record (which is something that America needs to fix immediately).


There are no federal requirements for those seeking employment in cannabis; however, some states do require state-level licensing/certifications in order to get hired into a role like budtending.

To land a job in cannabis, hiring managers like seeing applicants that have:

  • Knowledge

  • Versatility

  • Flexibility

  • Patience

  • Perseverance

  • An interest in compliance

  • People skills

  • Confidence

  • An industry network

  • Certification


There are many ways to land a job in the cannabis industry and showcasing passion for education within the industry shows that you’re a proactive and self-motivated candidate. Enrolling in a cannabis college doesn’t require a high school diploma or college degree; the main requirement is that students are 18 and older. Self-growth and development are necessary in any industry, so, initiating your education in a new industry is a great example of passion – if you can afford a program.


The cost of Cannabis Training University vs. traditional college


For those that want a career in cannabis, attending cannabis college is a great and cost-effective way to go. Education data reports that in 2020, the average cost of a 2-year college education is $12,720, an in-state 4-year college education is $21,950, and an out-of-state 4-year college education is $38,330.


Attending a cannabis college like Cannabis Training University provides you with a certificate and the knowledge of a comprehensive cannabis program for less than $1,000. And CTU doesn’t have different rates for in-state and out-of-state tuition. It’s the same for those in CO, PA, FL, WA, etc., and they allow students to learn at their own pace, which is valuable to many.


But is cannabis college worth it?

Cannabis is different, but not so different than other industries. Like with many job searches, having previous experience (in this case, cannabis certification) could mean a leg up over the competition. But not everyone has a $1,000 to contribute to cannabis education, and many still choose to learn about the plant in more old-fashioned and low-key ways.


Because cannabis is illegal in so many places across the world, we still have a long way to go until everyone can risk or afford a certification program. To cover our bases, we asked for a few opinions about what different industry professionals were looking for when hiring.


Brett Puffenbarger, Director of Communications at Suncoast Norml, says that:

Formalized, or at least organized, cannabis education certificates are currently the best way to gain an overall understanding of the plant and industry. As much as cannabis is just another CPG, it still has its own unique qualities and having a certificate showing that can be the difference in this very competitive cannabis job market.”


The Happy Cannabis Collection, a craft Cannabis company, says:

“We don’t look for degrees, but if we did, the recommendation would be ‘plant science and chemistry type coursework.


And the Professional Cannabis Consulting Group says they look for the following:

One of the most important things to consider when looking for a qualified candidate is their education and training within the cannabis industry. Do they have or meet the proper up to date licensing requirements, and do they have the education required to fulfill their job?


For those aspiring to enter the cannabis industry, tending to your curiosity via certification is a viable option. Attending cannabis college represents open, de-stigmatized opportunities to learn about operating a dispensary, cultivation, cooking with cannabis, and more. Who’s ready to learn?


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