As Michigan’s cannabis industry rapidly matures, the state’s education and labor markets are meeting the needs of the burgeoning new industry.

Western Michigan University, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is offering a new cannabis marketing course starting in spring 2023. The course will be offered through WMU’s Haworth College of Business and is intended to equip students with the necessary skills to enter the cannabis industry, according to a release.

“The industry growth and accelerated national legalization are creating new jobs in a robust fashion,” said Dr. Kelly O’Reilly, chair of WMU’s department of marketing. “In cannabis marketing, it is essential to have complete knowledge of the supply chain, cultivation, cannabinoids, history, trends in consumers usage, health benefits, how food and cannabis cultures intersect, and the importance of state tax revenue. This knowledge will help differentiate our students from those from other universities. We expect cannabis marketing to help us continue to solidify our place in the industry for retailer and producer collaboration research.”

The course will be taught by Dr. Russell Zwanka, director of WMU’s food marketing program and associate professor of marketing, and will focus on several key areas of interest in cannabis, including history of the plant, consumer traits, ethical and responsible marketing, retail channels, and more. Zwanka has done extensive research in the cannabis market, including working on three books about THC and CBD, three published academic papers, two student-led research projects and more, according to the release.

Both undergraduate and graduate students will be able to register for the cannabis marketing class, with flex options for either in-person or online attendance one night per week.

“This is a rising business that is changing on a daily basis. It’s an exciting place for consumer goods and retailing where we can show thought leadership and training,” Zwanka said. “This is extremely important to food marketing, as well as supply chain management and sales and business marketing majors, in addition to MBA students in these fields.”


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