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Demand for cannabis classes grows after recreational marijuana legalization in Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Inside a co-working space in Minneapolis Monday night, two dozen people took attentive notes and followed a presentation as an instructor taught the basics: How many cannabis plants they're allowed to grow and what they will need to do it.

The class was a home-growing "boot camp" educating people on the new law legalizing marijuana this summer. And demand for other courses like it is increasing because Minnesotans eager to tap into the newly legal industry want to learn more, said Tanner Berris, president of the Minnesota Cannabis College.

"We've been having people calling us pretty much every hour of the day asking, 'hey, I want to become part of this industry. I want to start a business. I'm looking for a job, or I just sort of want to learn more about growing at home.' So it's really been sort of us trained to be able to meet that demand," Berris said.

The college isn't an accredited program—it's a nonprofit that began a few years ago when hemp products were first popping up in the state. But Berris said it's been able to expand because of marijuana legalization.

The group's goal is to support entrepreneurs who want to become part of the industry and equip them with the training that they need. Soon there will be classes on business management, cannabis cultivation and "budtending," for people who want to sell weed in retail stores.

There won't be dispensaries — except for some tribal nations — until at least early 2025 as the new state office tasked with oversight gets up and running. But in the meantime, Minnesotans can grow up to eight plants in their home as of Aug. 1, which prompted the Minnesota Cannabis College to offer a class on how to do it, though their main focus is on the business of cannabis.

"I think my biggest surprise has been the number of people that are actually wanting to like, take that affirmative step of starting their own business," he explained. "We've had people reach out that, yes, are cannabis enthusiasts, but also people that don't use cannabis themselves who have just been prior business entrepreneurs and see this as a new opportunity and are looking for more information about sort of how to become part of that industry."

Berris told WCCO his group has entirely booked most of its classes it has offered to date. Some are free but others have a fee to join.

St. Cloud State University is the first state school to offer an online certificate in cannabis education. It's a 24-week, non-credit program with four areas of study: Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture; Cannabis Compliance and Risk Management; Business of Cannabis; and Cannabis Healthcare and Medicine.

Those enrolled can learn at their own pace with fully online classes.

"When we knew that the law was going to be passed and signed by the governor — we heard about that in the spring — we thought to ourselves how can we be innovative? What bold approach can we take to help offer not just to the St. Cloud community, but really to the entire state, an opportunity to really advance themselves in the cannabis industry," Abram Hedtke, executive director of Professional and Continuing Education at the school told WCCO in a recent interview.

He said interest in the program and enrollment surpassed expectations in its first week of opening enrollment. A couple dozen began classes in September and another group will begin November 8.

Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture, which focuses on the study of the plant itself, is the most popular.

Minnesota is the 23rd state to legalize cannabis for recreational use among adults. It's had a medical program for years.



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