Medical Marijuana: Starting a Pot Business

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on July 25, 2011

In case working at Goldman Sachs or McKinsey doesn’t work out, MBAs are welcome to take their management and business skills and head west, to the burgeoning market of… marijuana dispensaries.

Now that Colorado and California have legalized medical marijuana, for-profit institutions are setting up shop to educate would-be entrepreneurs in management and enforcement., a news and lifestyle blog in Denver, Colo., listed the course offerings of five high-minded schools in the state and their accredited collegiate equivalent.

Cannabis University is the Harvard of the bunch, the blog says, because it was the first school to be established. It offers classes on state and federal law, basic agriculture (how to grow pot), preparation and cooking. The all-day Saturday class runs 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. You and a friend can attend for $250. If that’s too much for a budding entrepreneur, the “Colorado caregivers business start-up kit” is $125.

Medical Marijuana 101 is geared toward lawyers and business owners. The Saturday classes, which run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., cover basics of the new law taught by one of the law's organizers and medical marijuana lawyer from California, as well as business compliance issues, workplace safety and health standards. Graduates of the $495 class receive a business compliance manual. If this were a normal college, the blog says, it would be Yale Law School, "with no Skull and Bones secret society."

Canna-Business Institute is a four-session class costing almost $1,000 that speaks to the nuts and bolts of running a now-legal drug dispensary. There's a law class, as well as accounting and taxes, legal rights and caregiver best practices. Students role-play during the legal rights session, and graduates can proudly display their certificate of completion in their dispensary.

Greenway University hopes to offer a non-accredited MBA eventually, which you'd be able to proudly display next to your real MBA from a top business school. For now, the two-day, $295 seminar includes the standard law, compliance and operations presentations, as well as how to incorporate a delivery service. Students will receive textbooks and resource guides.

Cannabis Therapy Institute is a relative bargain at free to $150 depending on the class, and the institute sometimes offers web coupons. Instructors include lawyers, growers, doctors and patient advocates. The institute is also pushing for buy-local (pot) initiatives, so be sure to lend your supply-chain management skills expertise.

--Kiah Lau Haslett

Reader Comments


July 25, 2011 1:38 PM

If you live in Longmont or nearby, Botanic Labs is the best thing around for the personal grower. $100 to schedule an appointment with an expert grower or have him come to your house, he even performs maintenance once a week if you want. Just like a school but more private, like a tutor. You can bring in leaves, pictures, whatever. The office is cool too but I'm not sure how far outside Longmont he will go, seems more like a local thing.

Jillian Galloway

July 25, 2011 5:22 PM

On June 17, 1971, President Nixon told Congress that "if we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us." After forty years of trying to destroy "the drug menace in America" we still *haven't* been able to destroy it and it still *hasn't* destroyed us. Four decades is long enough to realize that on this important issue, President Nixon was wrong! All actions taken as a result of his invalid and paranoid assumptions (e.g. the federal marijuana prohibition) should be ended immediately!

It makes no sense for taxpayers to fund the federal marijuana prohibition when it *doesn't* prevent people from using marijuana and it *does* incite the awful violence that we read about in the news every day by making criminals incredibly wealthy and providing the Mexican drug cartels with a reason to murder thousands of people every year. While it's one thing to try to discourage the smoking of marijuana, it's quite another thing to cause thousands of brutal deaths and arrest 800,000 people a year for doing nothing more than possessing the dried flowers of a plant!

We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales - to keep drug dealer criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana must be made legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

"There's something extraordinarily perverse when we're so concerned about preventing addicts from having access to drugs that we destroy the lives of many times more people, either through untreated pain or other drug war damage".

Ganja Santa

July 25, 2011 7:19 PM

You are so right on Jillian Galloway!

John Toalson

July 25, 2011 7:51 PM

Wow, these guys are making a killing. I used to own a dispensary in Boulder, Colorado. I decided to write a book to help people open a dispensary. I should look into opening a skool to help all these people, lol.

I support these guys, every dispensary that opens is another blow to the failed drug war!


July 25, 2011 9:05 PM

Oaksterdam University ( offers a 13-week semester course covering a wide range of topics including law, civics, methods of ingestion (edibles, concentrates, vaporization), cannabusiness, cultivation, and more...


July 25, 2011 10:29 PM

For those who haven't understand what goodness marijuana can bring, it's actually use for medicine. Only the excessive use of it makes it addictive and considered as illegal drug. I think this business will undergo some debate. But in case there's a need to get helpful info on small business insurance and tips on it, I found this great article.


July 26, 2011 12:36 AM

Rock and roll=hash and oil!

Go team cbd though I love sativa


July 26, 2011 10:12 AM

If all these MBA people are coming into our industry, why doesn't mainstream business take us seriously then? I've worked for years to build my cannabis business and yet nobody in "corporate" america will even talk to me. I say...go back to NYC and...get out of our industry. Unless you're going to fund us like you do other businesses, go away.


July 26, 2011 3:56 PM

Business Week should not be endorsing anything from the Cannabis Therapy Institute in Colorado. These people are charlatans, and have no understanding of the law here, or worse, completely disregard the law, giving information to people that has repeatedly gotten folks arrested. Google "Tim Tipton" for details.

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