Cannabis cert no-go for now


Christian Richey

Professor Shad Ewart teaches a class on the business of medical marijuana.

Christian Richey, Associate Editor

AACC officials have decided not to move forward with a proposed Medical Marijuana Specialist certificate, at least for now.  

Vice President for Learning Mike Gavin halted the certificate, claiming it could jeopardize federal financial aid for AACC students. 

Because the government has classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug—saying it has a high potential for abuse but no accepted medical use—a certificate built around it could be considered “aiding and abetting,” Gavin said. 

Still, the University of Maryland, Baltimore launched a master’s degree in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics.  

The government granted that program an exception, although the original proposal put up to $500 million at risk, Gavin said.  

“The exception had to do with a kind of course work that is in that program that is not present in our program,” Gavin said.  

Professor Shad Ewart, who proposed the stalled AACC certificate, noted his plan was to offer five classes to train students for entry-level positions in the medical cannabis industry, while UMB’s program focuses on higher-level positions.  

Ewart said graduates of UMB’s program would apply for jobs as master horticulturalists at grow facilities. 

Ewart’s former students supported the proposed AACC certificate.  

“I really support what the professor’s been trying to work so hard on,” former student Eryck Stamper, founder of Veterans Initiative 22, said. “These [credentials] could actually be critical to [students’] job enhancement and job promotion.”  

Former student Kai Hoffman noted the range of opportunities for those going into the medical marijuana field. 

“You don’t have to be growing the pot to [make money],” he said. “You could be in security, IT, … inventory tracking. You could be in clothing design. There’s tons of [opportunities].” 
Jacob Dear, a first-year intelligence analytics student taking Ewart’s class this semester, said he is in favor of the AACC certificate. 

“There are all different kinds of classes for other fields,” Dear said. “As the law evolves, obviously new fields are going to open up and old ones are going to close and this is just the next step.”   

Gavin said the certificate will not move forward until the federal government legalizes medical marijuana, which is already legal in Maryland.