How Clark University Hopes to Prepare Future Cannabis Regulators

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Earlier this month, Clark University in Massachusetts announced that it will soon offer a graduate certificate in cannabis-control regulation. Slated to start this fall, the three-course program will be offered online and made available to participants across the United States.

This course  comes at a time when more colleges and universities are posting new cannabis courses, often focused on business or medicine, but this one is different: it’s aimed at training the next cohort of cannabis regulators.

The coursework is centered on public policy, and participants will grapple with issues like local licensing of retail shops, public consumption, quality control, and tax policy.

Cannabis Wire followed up with Mary Piecewicz, associate dean of the School of Professional Studies, to learn more: (This Q&A has been lightly edited for space and clarity.)

Julia Barajas, Cannabis Wire: What prompted the program?   

Mary Piecewicz, Clark: The emergence of public policy by popular referendum that legalizes the sales and distribution of adult use cannabis has prompted a myriad of issues in the public policy domain. Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont have all passed ballot [laws] legalizing adult use marijuana, with other New England states soon to follow.

This dramatic swing from viewing marijuana as an illegal drug to a legal regulated substance has left many in the public policy arena struggling to deal with this policy shift.

We maintain it is our responsibility to bring a legitimate and serious educational response to a grave public policy issue – an issue that is straining many municipalities, state agencies and police and other public safety officials. Currently, the only other graduate course offering in New England is at the University of Vermont’s School of Medicine, which focuses on the therapeutic use of cannabis.

CW: Who’s enrolling in the program?

Piecewicz: The participants who have expressed an interest are from a wide variety of industries: law enforcement, public health, tax officials, and municipal leaders to name a few.

CW: Have any regulators been in touch?  

Piecewicz: The curriculum was designed under the close guidance and with the input of stakeholders who are experiencing those public policy issues. Law enforcement and public health officials, town administrators, district attorneys, cannabis growers and distributors have all been involved in the certificate’s development.   

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