Community college starts class on the business of marijuana

ARNOLD, Md. (AP) - Start stoner-friendly munchies stands in Colorado. Or open a lounge near a marijuana dispensary in Oregon.

Or try selling fertilizer to weed growers, dude.

"Opportunities are endless, whatever we can create in our heads," said Dean Warner, an Anne Arundel Community College student.

The college launched Feb. 2 a class exploring business opportunities around the country's expanding marijuana market.

"The people that made the money in the Gold Rush were not the guys with the nuggets," said professor Shad Ewart. "It was the people who sold them the picks, the shovels, made the blue jeans, opened the banks."

Last year, Maryland became the 18th state to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Someone caught with less than 10 grams, however, still faces a fine up to $100 for a first offense.

Four states - Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado - went further to make pot legal for recreational use. When combined with medical marijuana taxes and fees, Colorado earned $3.5 million from pot sales in January of last year.

"I'm just trying to open their eyes to the opportunities," Ewart said. "Be the guy that supplies the lighting, the nutrients, the dirt."

He's taught business and marketing classes at the college for more than 15 years.

His latest class was almost called "Ganja-preneurship" (too provocative, he said) and is instead called - Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Emerging Markets: Marijuana Legalization.

It began Feb. 2 when he wrote the course number on the board.

"You see the green pen?"


"The green that I'm talking about in this class is money."

Understand, this class is not Cheech & Chong.

"That's a part I want to de-emphasize," Ewart said.

A similar course is offered at the University of Denver, though Ewart said area colleges offer no such courses.

His class - also almost called "Canna-business" - comes as advocates want to see last year's decriminalization law extended to cover rolling papers and other paraphernalia.

The first proposal to decriminalize pot in Maryland was introduced in 2011. Similarly, Ewart said he's spent two years lobbying administrators to allow his course.

Four times, he appeared before the committee that approves new courses, he said. Typically, a new course is approved in one semester, he said.

"Other (professors) have been a little bit nervous," he said.

Last year's General Assembly session also saw the expansion of medical marijuana laws in Maryland to allow patients access to pot if approved by doctors. That expansion allowed up to 15 growers.

County Executive Steve Schuh, who served last session in the House of Delegates, voted against both decriminalization and medical-marijuana expansion. Schuh's position hasn't changed, said Owen McEvoy, his spokesman.

"That being said, we have to respect the position of the community college to dictate their curriculum," McEvoy said.

Seventeen students enrolled in the class to learn everything from the history of marijuana in Ancient Egypt to its economic impact today. There will be readings, but no textbooks.

"There's nothing out there - I looked," Ewart said.

Alexander Rossi, a 2014 graduate of South River High School, enrolled after betting on penny stocks of startup marijuana growers. He earned more investing, he said, than working his job at Jerry's Seafood in Bowie.

The class attracted older students, too, like Michael Malone. He owns Cancun Cantina West in Hagerstown.

"Businesses are changing," he said. "This is the future."


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Trending Stories

Don't Miss Video