Aspiring entrepreneurs can start taking online cannabis business courses at Scottsdale Community College (SCC) for credits and certification starting this fall.
Last year, Arizona took in $1.9 billion from the marijuana industry. This puts the state in the top 10 in overall national revenue from sales.
But there’s more money to be had because Arizona’s Proposition 207, legalizing the recreational use of cannabis for people 21 and older, is setting deeper roots. Medical use has been legal for a decade.
Marie Saloum, CEO of GreenPharms, a dispensary in Mesa, says courses like these at CSC will hopefully teach students the fundamentals of the retail cannabis industry, which is crucial in such a market. ever-changing nuanced and booming.
“When reality deviates from expectations — as it invariably will — these fundamentals will provide the basis for the plan ahead,” Saloum said.
There are four cannabis business courses at Scottsdale Community College, with Cannabis 101 (CAN101) being the introduction to the program and earning three credits. CAN110, worth one credit, teaches students about social equity and current issues in the cannabis industry. In CAN120, worth three credits, students will learn about legality and the regulatory environment. Finally, CAN125, two credits, looks at supply chain management. The entire course will allow students to obtain a certification and nine credits. The cost for a Maricopa County resident will be $85 per credit hour.
CAN101 focuses on all aspects of the industry, including its history, social and political aspects. Perhaps, more importantly, the program addresses business trends and plans. It may seem like dispensaries are the only cost-effective option, but maybe not, according to Saloum.
“When it comes to companies in the industry that operate outside of the dispensary model, I only see these expanding markets as the push toward federal legalization continues to gain momentum,” she said. “Currently, we are already seeing an increase in the prevalence of certain businesses – from edibles brands and consumer-friendly event spaces and promoters, to accessory brands and even dabtending services.”
For the nervous consumer, an urban boutique dispensary might seem a bit intimidating while a multi-state conglomerate with an “Apple Store” aesthetic might put them at ease. While the two have different value, it’s in these family-owned shops that consumers might have a more informed experience because “they’re overseen by people on the ground here in Arizona,” Saloum said.
“Meanwhile, while large corporations may be present here, any decision-making authority is likely to be obtained by someone unrelated to the region, and subsequently, to the people who live here,” he said. she adds.
Owning her own shop, Saloum has learned that getting to know the local community is important for business. “It’s precisely because we live here, we send our children to the same schools as our customers, we buy from the same stores as them – it’s because of this that companies like GreenPharms can be so involved in the community,” she said. said.
As students will likely learn as they progress through the courses, there is more money to be made in the cannabis industry than just owning a storefront.
Saloum said there has recently been a surge of interest in concentrates and extracts. With the disappearance of recreational use in Arizona, this market has exploded but presents little risk of oversaturation. In fact, she argued, “it has arguably established itself comfortably as a subculture in the wider cannabis community.”
As with most legalized recreational substances, there are guidelines, and Saloum hopes students will pay close attention to compliance and state laws, which might be their most helpful resource. “Other than that, it’s just a huge benefit, overall, to learn about all aspects of the business, from seeding to selling, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the best way to navigate the landscape at first.”
After nearly a decade in the dispensary industry, the Saloum has learned a lot. Through trial and error, his success stems primarily from his knowledge of his community and his ability to connect with people, be they his employers or clients. Maybe there’s more to running a cannabis business than earning college credit.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that, like any other industry, cannabis is fraught with pitfalls,” she said. “These can range from supply chain obstacles to the challenge of maintaining a diverse and equitable work environment. The best way to overcome any challenge is to have open and effective communication, as well as taking the time to consider all aspects of the problem at hand before determining the best solution.