And she is far from the only executive in the space looking for new hires with advanced science and business degrees. As the legal marijuana industry matures across 30 states in the U.S., there is growing demand for these skills. Last fall, Northern Michigan University became the first accredited undergraduate program to offer a four-year degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry which combines the science and business of medical marijuana. More and more, cannabis companies are seeking the best talent from top schools according to the cannabis recruiting firm, Vangst.
Her message to curious college and grad school students looking to apply this spring:
“This is an industry that’s going through a wave of professionalization, but has all these thorny, complex issues around racial equity, that’s also really intersecting. And because of those intersections, we thought it would make a lot of sense to hold it at Yale,” says Lee pointing to the school’s historic emphasis on social justice. The conference is expected to draw 300 and will include students from Yale’s School of Forestry, Public Health and Law schools.
Their boss, Lilach Mazor Power, CEO and cofounder of The Giving Tree says she realized early on that as the industry has emerged from the shadows into a legal, highly regulated market, she needed to find skilled employees to build her business. The Giving Tree, which opened in 2013, grows medical grade cannabis, producing a range of pot products made from cannabis extracts like oils, lotions and even THC infused “breath strips,” which are sold in its four Arizona dispensaries to patients struggling with ailments such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD and epilepsy.
Power sees hiring university graduates, especially those with scientific degrees, as the logical next step in the rapidly professionalizing world of weed.
The DEA has also implied it’s not looking for candidates with “previous experience handling controlled substances,” regardless of marijuana’s legal status in the state where they reside. The disclaimer is enough to scare away applicants who have dabbled in cultivating pot.
STAT’s Andrew Joseph learned from speaking with researchers that many are wary of the costs associated with opening a cultivation facility. Construction alone could set growers back millions of dollars, according to an attorney who formerly coordinated Illinois’ medical marijuana program.
Over four decades ago, the DEA teamed up with the University of Mississippi to grow weed legally and distribute it for federally authorized studies. Because of this monopoly, scientists had to wait years to get their hands on research-grade drugs that meet their specifications. Allowing more universities to grow means there will be more strains available for study.
Other schools that were contacted include Cornell University, Virginia Tech, University of Vermont, Michigan State University, and Purdue University.
Health news site STAT contacted almost a dozen agriculture schools last month and found that not one was interested or planned to apply for registration with the DEA.
Saying you grow marijuana “for research” sounds like an excuse an 18-year-old college student would give to campus security. But the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is looking for candidates to do just that.
In August, the DEA sent waves of hope through the medical marijuana community when it announced it would finally allow new institutions to obtain grow licenses. There’s just one problem: The DEA has no takers.
Growers must also show evidence they have security measures in place to keep the marijuana safe from prying hands, which adds to the expenditures.
Until now, the University of Mississippi has cornered the market on marijuana manufacturing.