San Francisco’s City College Prepares To Fire Up Marijuana Curriculum

The hits just keep coming for City College of San Francisco, which earlier this month retained its accreditation for the next seven years and recently received a $9 million earmark from the Board of Supervisors to fund free tuition for city residents. (Mayor Lee intends to redesignate those funds, though, so it’s hardly a done deal.) Now City College has announced a new curriculum designed to prepare students to join the budding cannabis industry, after the passage of Prop. 64 in November made recreational use of marijuana legal in California. In the state of California alone, cannabis is projected to blaze up $6.5 billion in sales by 2020 according to industry analyst Arcview Market Research.

“The emerging workforce opportunities with employers who dispense cannabis are a robust career opportunity for members of our communities,” CCSF spokesperson Jeffrey Hamilton told SFist.

The City College cannabis classes will not simply be sessions on how to grow weed. “The curriculum we are discussing will align to roles and responsibilities for Pharmacy Technicians, not cultivation,” Hamilton said.

While still in the planning phase, this is curriculum is being foreseen as a joint operation between the Oakland-based ‘cannabis college’ Oaksterdam University and the labor union United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) that represents marijuana workers. Enrollees will likely be required to be enrolled in a UFCW apprenticeship program.

“By creating a partnership, we will ensure that these opportunities are broadly announced and that the model includes a pathway to college,” Hamilton told SFist. “When we partnered with UFCW they had an already existing relationship with Oaksterdam which is why they are part of the program.”

In other words, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to just enroll for free-tuition cannabis courses with no prerequisite involvement in a cannabis industry union. That said, prerequisites are still not stoned-in for these courses that would that are slated to begin in the spring 2018 semester.

“We are still in discussions about how to structure the partnership,” according to Hamilton. “As currently envisioned, initially the apprenticeship would be based on an ‘employment first’ model which means employers hire apprentices who then ‘earn and learn’ concurrently.”

A cannabis curriculum might sound like a cheap and gimmicky way to attract students wishing to “major in marijuana,” but City College is probably being quite shrewd to create apprenticeship programs and Pharm Tech curricula around the industry. California already generates nearly the triple the amount of cannabis revenue than the next-highest state of Colorado. Even though no-holds-barred recreational use is already in full effect in Colorado, that state’s marijuana industry made $996.2 million in 2015. California, which is still functionally a medical-use only state, cleared $2.5 billion in 2015.

Furthermore, marijuana is already California’ top cash crop. And the billion-dollar buzz of full recreational use hasn’t even kicked in yet.