Cultivating Minds

Onondaga Community College provides unique cannabis certificate program

With the state’s cannabis industry in its infancy, Onondaga Community College (OCC) based in Syracuse, N.Y. recently announced the launch of its CannabisHub. The cannabis education program offers certificate programs focused on keeping up with the growing recreational cannabis industry.

CannabisHub is accessible to everyone, whether they’re already in the cannabis industry or are interested in entering into it. “Anybody from anywhere in the country can enroll in these courses. No matter whether you have a PhD or were just released from a state penitentiary, whether you have a million dollars or not, we are here to provide that education,” stated OCC President Dr. Warren Hilton, adding OCC is providing a level playing field.“This is accessible to anybody who has a computer.”

Shortly after Dr. Warren Hilton took over as president of OCC in July, the college received a State University of New York (SUNY) notification that its proposal for a cannabis curriculum would not be funded. Despite the setback, OCC still wanted to move forward because of the “critical need,” in the cannabis industry.“Ultimately, the decision that was made was that we would partner with someone who was already providing the program and flexible,” Hilton said.

OCC partnered with the Cleveland School of Cannabis in Ohio to create CannabisHub. It is this partnership that sets the program apart. Hilton explained the Cleveland School has partnerships with cultivators, inspectors and industry professionals.

CannabisHub focuses on three areas: cannabis cultivation science, dispensary training and extractions. The cultivation science workforce certificate offers courses on the basics of cannabis horticulture, a foundation to grow medical-grade cannabis, pest management, glandular trichome science and techniques to create an ideal grow environment. The lectures range between 45 minutes and two hours.

The dispensary training workforce certificate focuses on areas including a basic overview of cannabis, the medical aspects of CBD, the history of cannabis, advocacy and the science behind terpenes. Course times range between 30 minutes to two hours.

The extraction science workforce certificate highlights topics including cooking with cannabis, solventless extraction methods, ethanol and hydrocarbon extraction, CO2 extraction and processing and refinement methods. Course times range between one and three hours.

All the lessons are taught by doctors, cultivators and dispensary professionals and are available online. With 90 percent of the curriculum pre-recorded, students will have more flexibility with their schedules. Once they sign up and pay the registration fee, students will be able to access the courses in 24 hours.

A week after CannabisHub launched on Jan. 23, OCC had five people sign up for courses, coming from different backgrounds and ages, according to Hilton. He expects that 10-20 people will register for the program over the course of the next month.

For more information and to register for courses, visit

Hilton hopes that employers in the cannabis industry across New York will come to see OCC as a partner. By having potential employees trained in-state through CannabisHub, they will be able to save time and money.

“We want employers to see this training as valuable,” Hilton stated. “They’re going to be able to hire a trained workforce.”

Hilton expects that more marketing and the growing cannabis industry will bring more people to enroll.

As New York’s industry evolves and grows, so will CannabisHub. Hilton hopes to provide supplemental workshops with employers to talk about topics including the legal side of recreational marijuana, accounting and what it’s like to work in a dispensary. Additionally, he plans to develop an advisory board of industry professionals, update curriculum, even build a credit program focused on cannabis.

“I believe education is the best way for people to achieve their dreams, including cannabis education,” Hilton said.

Cannabis studies grow throughout New York

Last summer, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that State University of New York and the City Universities of New York would receive $5 million to support in creating or enhancing cannabis credential programs or course offerings. Finger Lakes Community College and Onondaga Community College in the Finger Lakes Region are just a couple of the schools that will benefit from the state’s funds.

Listed are the remaining colleges across the state that offer cannabis-related courses.

Bronx Community College
Columbia-Greene Community College
Cornell University
Excelsior College
Farmingdale State College
Fulton-Montgomery Community College
Lehman College
LIM College
Medger Evers CUNY
Mercy College
Niagara Community College
Onondaga Community College
SUNY Canton
SUNY Clinton Community College
SUNY Empire State College
SUNY Morrisville
SUNY Orange
SUNY Cobleskill
Syracuse University

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