3 Ways JWU's Cannabis Entrepreneurship Program Can Impact the Industry

With the recreational legalization of cannabis now approved in Rhode Island, industry leaders from around the state gathered on September 15 to discuss the future of the cannabis industry at Providence Business News’ Business of Cannabis Summit. JWU’s Professor Michael Budziszek, PhD, one of the two directors of the university's Cannabis Entrepreneurship bachelor's degree program, was featured as a panelist. The panel included three CEO/founders from across the cannabis industry, representing sectors like cultivation, compassion centers and testing facilities. Budzisek rounded out the group with his expertise and perspective on the educational component of the industry and how JWU’s ground-breaking cannabis program will change the landscape.

Associate Professor Michael Budziszek

Budziszek brings his background in botany to JWU's cannabis entrepreneurship degree program.

The Cannabis Entrepreneurship program offers students the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of the fast-growing cannabis industry with an interdisciplinary approach that combines the science and business of the industry and uniquely positions students for the workforce. As Budziszek noted, the university’s multifaceted approach means that it is “positioned nicely” to best prepare students for a career in the industry.

But beyond preparing students for careers, the program strives to change the landscape of the cannabis industry as a whole. Here’s how JWU's Cannabis Entrepreneurship program is positioned to positively impact this cutting-edge industry.

1. We bring food and hospitality experience into the cannabis conversation.

Interdisciplinary learning is part of the university's DNA and, when it comes to the Cannabis Entrepreneurship program, that couldn’t be truer. The program is housed in both the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Business because students are learning about the entire process, from developing the seed to building and marketing a branded product. JWU is using its legacy programs in food and hospitality to become distinctive in emerging areas of healthcare, innovation, entrepreneurship and STEAM. The growing cannabis industry encompasses all of these, so the program reflects that by exploring a wide variety of topics. “We’re going to produce students who are well-versed in all aspects of the industry,” Budziszek said. “We’re going to have our finger on the pulse of this market.”

“We’re going to produce students who are well-versed in all aspects of the industry.”

2. Our innovative lab spaces offer hands-on experience in each area of the industry.

The cannabis industry is constantly shifting to adapt to the latest developments, and the Johnson & Wales John J. Bowen Center for Science and Innovation houses the tools and resources students will need to keep up. Students can start by focusing on the science in our chemistry and biology labs to conduct research such as controlling for soil conditions, sunlight and other factors. A brand-new, state-of-the-art grow lab has been installed next door to our other science labs so students can grow and study plants with similar characteristics to cannabis.* Then they can also head downstairs to our Innovation Lab and other design spaces, which can be used to explore new ways of packaging, marketing or researching cannabis and related products.

JWU LEED-Certified Facilities: Bowen Center for Science & Innovation

The John J. Bowen Center for Science and Innovation houses many of the cutting-edge lab spaces for the program.

3. The program is a big step in destigmatizing the industry.

JWU is currently the only university in Rhode Island to offer a degree associated with cannabis. Offering a four-year degree program helps to reshape conversations and preconceived ideas of the industry, solidifying it as a viable career option amid a thriving industry. “We need innovative education here to make this a credible market,” Budziszek said. “The biggest innovation we have is education.” *

Read More >>> Your Top 5 Cannabis Entrepreneurship Questions, Answered

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*“Cannabis” refers to three plants known as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis and encompasses both marijuana and hemp. The main difference between marijuana and hemp is their THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) content, which is more than .3 percent in marijuana and .3 percent or less in hemp. Although many state laws have legalized both marijuana and hemp (including Rhode Island), marijuana remains an illegal Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. The university must comply with both federal and state law; therefore, the university strictly prohibits the distribution, growth, possession, processing, production, sale, and use of marijuana, with limited exceptions for research only insofar as permitted under all applicable laws. Hemp is legal, albeit regulated; all uses of hemp must comply strictly with all applicable laws.