By Anthony Cammalleri | March 17, 2023 | Lynn Item


LYNN — This fall, North Shore Community College (NSCC) will offer a Cannabis Cultivation and Retail program for students who wish to take part in the Commonwealth’s budding marijuana industry.

The 16-credit, two-semester comprises courses in botany, law, and business to provide students 21 years of age or older a thorough education in how to grow, manage, and sell cannabis legally.

NSCC Assistant Provost Andrea DeFusco-Sullivan said that unlike many of the state’s online cannabis education programs, the New England Commission of Higher Education-accredited program can earn participating students the credentials needed to begin working in the industry immediately after completion.

“We wanted to present a program that would get our graduates jobs and the way that we’ve laid out this program, they can go on to get a horticulture or business degree at the college, but they can also go to work in the industry, either on the retail side, the medical research and development side, or on the agricultural side,” DeFusco-Sullivan said.

In 2018, the Commonwealth launched its Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Program. It is meant to help the individuals and communities most negatively affected by the war on drugs find work in the legal cannabis business.

DeFusco-Sullivan said that the college’s program, in conjunction with the state’s equity program, can provide NSCC’s low-income and minority students with a pathway to securing high-paying jobs in the cannabis industry.

“Most of the folks who were incarcerated in Massachusetts for cannabis crimes, even possessions of small amounts of cannabis, fall into the demographics that our students are,” DeFusco–Sullivan said. “These are literally our students. So this is central to our mission.”

Even though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, NSCC was able to make the program eligible for federal financial aid, under the condition that students do not handle or work with cannabis plants during the course of the program.

The program’s required certificate courses include: Plant and Soil Science; Fundamentals of Plant Health; Cannabis Law and the Regulatory Environment; Greenhouse Crop Production; Cannabis Cultivation and Management; and Cannabis Retail Product Development and Management.

“This program is a perfect example of offering our students access to the skills and knowledge they need to enter the workforce in a growing industry in our region,” NSCC Dean of STEM and Business Steven Hubbard said.

Initially, classes will be held in-person on the college’s Lynn campus, with the Cannabis Law and the Regulatory Environment course offered online.

The program will start during the fall 2023 semester, and will be featured at NSCC’s spring open house on March 25 at 300 Broad St.

“It’s something that all of our students should check out. Even if the person is very straight-laced, and doesn’t believe in any intoxicating substances, even coffee, it leads to a number of really good economic opportunities for students, and that’s our job,” DeFusco-Sullivan said.

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