ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –UNM is getting in on the newest and fastest-growing industries in the state.

“I think often times when people hear the universities are training people to be part of the cannabis industry they might snicker a little bit,” said Max Simon, CEO of Green Flower. But for his cannabis education platform and UNM, it’s no laughing matter.

“It’s something that people are really passionate about and it’s a great place to develop a career and so people should take it really seriously as an exciting new opportunity,” said Simon.

“The need for education in the cannabis industry is huge…and the education gap is huge,” Said Audrey Arnold, Executive Director of UNM’s Continuing Education. Now that recreational marijuana is legal in New Mexico, the two are partnering to bring cannabis studies to UNM Continuing Education.

“The more we have that education, the more responsible we will be as a community in serving that industry,” said Arnold.

The online courses include some hands-on experiences and are broken down into four separate programs: the Business of Cannabis, Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture, Cannabis Law and Policy, and Cannabis Health Care and Medicine.

“Each program takes about 6 months to complete and really covers foundational elements of the cannabis industry to learn how it works but then goes into specialties,” said Simon. The program launched in November 2021, and they only expect enrollment to grow.

“We’ve had a tremendous response to these programs. since we launched in November we’ve had over 300 students enroll,” said Arnold.

“It’s really important to understand that this is an amazingly fast-growing industry with an enormous amount of career potential,” said Simon. While degrees aren’t necessary to enter the industry, both UNM and Green Flower said a certificate from a reputable program help.

“Employers are looking for well-trained talent and because most people don’t have a professional background in cannabis, these certificate programs really give them a big leg up,” said Simon.

“The competition is going to be fierce. And again, we want to give people the right information to give, to give to their customers and who they serve. Because there is so much misinformation out there, having a reliable, trustworthy source to find correct information is very, very important right now,” said Arnold.

Each program costs about $3,000 and registration for the upcoming May cohort is open. CNM also offers a cannabis studies program. NMSU is working on bringing in two cannabis classrooms, one that will focus on growing cannabis in a greenhouse and another that will focus on how to process hemp products.