U.S. Cannabis Industry Is Job Generator: How Prepared are You to Be a Part of It?


Just how many jobs are being created because of the U.S. cannabis industry? There’s no denying that it has become a major job generator. With 25 states legalizing medical cannabis in some form and four states and the District of Columbia legalizing marijuana for adult-use, opportunities are seemingly endless.

According to a Marijuana Business Daily Chart of the Week from July, cannabis-related companies now employ over 100,000 workers. These estimates include part-time and full-time jobs at retailers, wholesale grows, infused products/concentrates companies, testing labs and ancillary firms focused primarily on marijuana. This is on par with numbers of people employed as flight attendants, or web developers, database administrators and librarians. Wow!

The largest segment of the industry touches plants—cultivators, trimmers, budtenders—and employ 58,000 to 88,000 workers. Ancillary companies that don’t handle the plant such as professional services firms, vaporizer manufacturers, and grow equipment suppliers also employ tens of thousands of workers.

If you’re interested in getting into the cannabis industry, you’ll go further with a good education. Oaksterdam University is an important stop along the journey for many cannabis entrepreneurs and workers.  Alumni include growers, edible manufacturers, budtenders, delivery service owners, and more.

Here’s a peek at just a few alumni stories to give you a glimpse into some of the possibilities.

Big Pete’s Treats. Edibles Manufacturer.

BigPetesBig Pete’s Treats is a family-owned medical cannabis edibles company, focused on quality canna-butter at its foundation for its yummy cookies. After 30 years of research and development growing his own cannabis plants and honing his baking techniques, Big Pete enrolled at Oaksterdam University in 2009. There, he was inspired to start a business that would make use of all the shake that was going unused from his cultivation projects. His curriculum at OU included comprehensive courses in history, politics, cultivation and cloning, as well as butter-making. A presentation by a chocolate maker and a homework assignment to create a cannabis business plan really got Big Pete thinking seriously about his potential business. Upon graduation, he kept his dream alive and by 2010, he had perfected his canna-butter infusion skills and sold his first batch of “Biggies”—made in his home kitchen—to a local dispensary. Each Biggie was made using 40mgs THC from Sativa infused butter. His cookie jar then contained three classic flavors: Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Snickerdoodle, all of which are still best sellers.

He soon moved into a large commercial kitchen to keep up with orders. Over the last five years, Big Pete’s Treats has won a number of awards and maintained its focus on making cookies from quality medical butter. Today, Big Pete’s son, Pete Jr. has joined his father in the business and they’ve got a variety of options now including 12 flavors of cannabis cookies in both sativa and indica and ranging from 20 mg to 80 mg doses.  Their Mini Packs of six mini cookies is their most popular, but they also have gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, sugar-free cookies, and Take-N-Bake tubs of pre-rolled, frozen cookie dough.

Read more about Big Pete and visit the company website!

Rachel Jacobson. Natural Cannabis Co Bud Tender.

RJacobsonRachel Jacobson is a bud tender at the Oakland location of Natural Cannabis Co, a collective of patients and cultivators in Northern California. She studied the classic and horticulture curriculums at Oaksterdam University after graduating from high school in Minnesota.

“I attended Oaksterdam University because I believe that the cannabis plants were put on this planet for human beings to utilize and that it has the potential to change the world,” said Jacobson.

She was able to learn everything from taking cuttings from a mother plant to advocating for pro-cannabis politicians and making cannabis infused butter—all within a 14-week course. Now she is a bud tender at Natural Cannabis Co, where patients can find flowers, seeds, topicals, concentrates, edibles, accessories and joints. The company has three locations: Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Hopland.

Final words from Jacobson? “There are so many different routes to go and Oaksterdam will introduce you to all of them, as well as give you the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals in the industry.”

Read more about Jacobson and visit the Natural Cannabis Co website!

Barbara Blaser. Magnolia Wellness Clinical Director.

BBlaserBarbara Blaser has supported cannabis legalization for many years. She’s a retired registered nurse who worked with hospice patients and periodically became aware that some patients were supplementing their medication with cannabis.  When she retired, Barbara wanted to learn more about medical cannabis from a place that offered professional training. Oaksterdam was the perfect choice as she was stunned at all there is to learn!

“I think the sections on legal issues was extremely interesting,” said Blaser. “The sessions with dispensary owners was invaluable. Their patient focused presentations clearly indicated this is not just a business but a mission to improve the lives of patients with some pretty debilitating diseases.”

Blaser is now the clinical director at Magnolia Wellness, an Oakland dispensary that’s served cannabis patients since 2009. Services are geared to provide well-being for patients and include massage, acupuncture and chiropractic help as well as free services and events such as a Caregiver Group, a PTSD Group, High Tea w/Clinical Director (Blaser herself!), free massage, traditional Chinese treatment, and much, much more.

And, as a final note of insight, Blaser said, “Many of the staff members at Magnolia Wellness are graduates of Oaksterdam!”

Read more about Blaser and visit the Magnolia Wellness website!

Based in Oakland, Oaksterdam University has been providing students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry since 2007. Thousands of students have come through its doors to learn the history, politics, and science of cannabis as well as how to grow medicinal quality cannabis, how to succeed in a cannabis business, and become strong advocates. With 150 active professors, Oaksterdam has gathered the best of the best in the cannabis industry—people with incredible knowledge, experience and recognition within the industry.

Want to take enroll? Oaksterdam offers semester and seminar programs throughout the year. One is sure to meet your timeframe and needs. Check Out Oaksterdam!

Tipping the Scale in Favor of Medical Cannabis Over Prescription Drugs; a Perfect Storm in the Making


There’s an interesting dichotomy occurring in the United States. There was a time when many Americans didn’t give much thought to prescription drugs. Doctors prescribed them, patients took them. But while pharmaceuticals have been a primary resource for pain relief and treatment of disease, we’re beginning to see more patients chose medical cannabis over prescription drugs in states where it is legal.

What’s motivating them? If you’ve been watching the trends, you could say there’s a perfect storm brewing based on three factors: growing prescription prices, fears associated with opioid addiction, and the support and acceptance of medical cannabis therapy.

Rising prescription drug prices are an issue for patients in the United States. A recent Money magazine article listed some alarming statistics about how out-of-control prescription drug prices have become including: double-digit drug price increases in the past three years, nearly 17 percent of all U.S. health care spending in 2015 went to prescription drugs as compared to roughly 7 percent in the 1990s, and that prescription drug spending is expected to reach $640 billion by 2020 as compared to the $425 billion spend in 2015.

In addition to high prescription drug prices, more Americans now believe opioids are the most serious drug problem in our country. According to National Institute of Drug Abuse 2012 numbers, over 2 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers and the number of unintentional overdose deaths more than quadrupled since 1999. Most recently, a June Gallup survey shows that more than four in 10 Americans view prescription painkillers as a ‘crisis’ or a ‘very serious problem’ in their local areas.

Are patients pushing back? Recent research appears to say ‘yes.’

Consumer Reports conducted a nationally representative telephone poll that revealed price increases occurred across the board of prescription drugs and that patients faced with higher drug costs stop taking their prescriptions. Another interesting study published in Health Affairs, a leading journal of health policy thought and research, shows that prescriptions filled by Medicare Part D enrollees from 2010 to 2013—specifically prescription drugs for which cannabis could serve as a clinical alternative—fell significantly once a medical marijuana law was implemented. In fact, the Medicare Part D enrollees spent nearly $165.2 million less on prescription drugs.

Pew Research and Gallup have been asking people about their acceptance of marijuana since 1969. In that timeframe you can trace public support for legalization to 2013, when—for the first time ever—more Americans were in favor of legalizing marijuana compared to those who were not. And, results from a Pew Research survey conducted in 2015, double-digit numbers of people have changed their minds in favor of cannabis legalization.

MMJ Acceptance Chart - Gallup

Drug companies have the ability to increase prices without regulation and lack of demand doesn’t cross their radar in relation to pricing. Instead, their focus is on the uniqueness of the drug, competing drugs, the number of drugs available in its pipeline, and the potential of the drug to change the current practice of medicine. So, don’t expect prescription drug prices to come down any time soon. And, tackling the opioid addiction problem is complicated. But medical cannabis is a strong contender for helping get people off opioids, which was one of the arguments that helped Ohio’s medical marijuana bill pass.

There are now 25 states in the United States where medical cannabis is legal in some form. That’s half of the country. We’re going to see even more patients choosing medical cannabis over prescription drugs in the future. Given the trends, results from studies like those published in Health Affairs (as mentioned above), provide undeniable proof that patients will choose cannabis for its affordability and medical benefits.  And, that is just another major tipping point in favor of cannabis.



21 Incredibly Disturbing Facts About Prescription Drug Prices, Money, June 22, 2016

As Drug Prices Increase, Quality of Life Goes Down, Consumer Reports, June 21, 2016

Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Prescription Medication Use in Medicare Part D, Health Affairs, July 2016

For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana, Gallup.com, October 22, 2013

In Debate Over Legalizing Marijuana, Disagreement Over Drug’s Dangers, Pew Research Center, April 14, 2015

Gallup Survey: Opioids Seen as Most Serious Local Drug Problem, Managed Care, August 2, 2016

How Pharmaceutical Companies Price Their Drugs, Investopedia, February 3, 2016

Prescription Opioid and Heroin Abuse, NIH