Cannabis certificate program at Oakton Community College trains students to work in medical marijuana industry

DES PLAINES (WLS) -- Oakton Community College in west suburban Des Plaines is the first college in Illinois to offer a cannabis-specific academic program.

The Cannabis Dispensary and Patient Care Specialist Certificate launched at Oakton this fall to provide training and information for those interested in the medical marijuana industry.

"We currently have 100 students enrolled," said Ruth Williams, assistant vice president of academic affairs and dean of curriculum & instruction.

"Over 400 students... are on our wait list for the program, so we're looking to expand the program this spring."

The program has attracted a wide range of students, from recent high school graduates hoping for entry level work to adults planning to switch careers.

Program curriculum covers a wide range of areas: cannabis laws, pharmacology, business operations, first aid training, and more.

Dean of STEM & Health Careers Bob Sompolski said that Oakton has already started conversations around expanding the program to include recreational cannabis classes after legalization on January 1, 2020.

"The law will allow recreational marijuana to be sold," Sompolski. "We are having internal discussions to try and address that market."

Jason Reese currently enrolled in the program and hopes to enter the field after spending much of his career in the pharmaceutical industry.

"I just want to say how great the program is here and how awesome the professors are," Reese said. "Anybody who decides they want to get into the industry should probably be here."
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