COD Enters the Growing Field of Cannabis Education

COD’s horticulture department is blazing a new trail with a course that delves into the anatomy and physiology of the cannabis plant, preparing students for jobs in this booming industry.

Devin Oommen, Staff Writer

Starting in Fall ’23, COD students will be able to take a class that will train them to work in the cannabis industry. 

“The course is going to explore the fundamentals of cannabis biology and production, with an emphasis on (the) anatomy and physiology of the cannabis plant, hemp and marijuana cultivation,” said Brian Clement, chair of the horticulture department at COD. 

HORT-1420, Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Production, is a four-credit-hour class and will be offered in two sections. An in-person section will meet on Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.. There will also be an online section. 

Students looking to take HORT-1420 need to have already taken HORT-1100, Introduction to Horticulture or be enrolled in the class at the same time.  

Students will also be able to earn a Cannabis and Industrial Cultivation Certificate at COD, pending approval by the board of trustees. The certificate is anticipated to be on the board’s agenda for approval in June. 

“Nearly every other community college in the area already has an approved certificate. We’re one of the last community colleges to offer something like that,” said Clement. 

Since the legalization of adult-use cannabis on Jan. 1, 2020, the Illinois cannabis industry has seen record sales. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported that in 2022, dispensaries sold $1.5 billion worth of products and generated over $250 million in tax revenue. 

There are ten licensed dispensaries in DuPage County. 

WBEZ cites that since 2019, 550 students have enrolled in Cannabis education program courses at Oakton Community College. 

Approval for the class comes at a time that COD has been trying to increase its overall enrollment. 

“Our main goal here is to support, basically train students for jobs in the community. We’re hoping we get the support to be able to approve that certificate,” said Clement. 

Students will not be growing marijuana on COD’s campus. 

“The department is working with industry partners such as Kerry Farms in Warrenville, IL and Cresco Labs to provide students with field trips and off-site learning opportunities in cannabis and hemp production,” said Clement. 

Colleges that grow marijuana plants on their campuses need to apply and be approved for a license from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. 

“If a student knows how to grow any type of plant that we teach in our other horticulture classes, they’re going to know how to grow a cannabis plant,” said Clement. 

Colleges that already offer cannabis industry-related certificates include Harper College, Black Hawk College, Illinois Valley Community College, Kishwaukee College, Triton College, Joliet Junior College, City Colleges of Chicago and Oakton Community College. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also offers a Cannabis Production & Management Certificate. 

The certificate the department has proposed requires students to take 37 credit hours of classes. The classes that will be part of the certificate are: 

HORT-1100, HORT 1101 Soils and Fertilizers, HORT-1420 Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Production, HORT-2221 Plant Propagation, HORT-2222 Introduction to Plant Breeding, HORT- 2250 Plant Pathology, HORT- 2253 Greenhouse Operations and Procedures, HORT- 2255 Greenhouse Crop Production, HORT- 2261 Insect Entomology For Horticulture, HORT- 2304 Hydroponic and Aquaponic Production Systems, Business 1180 Dispensary Operations, Business Law 1180 Cannabis Law and Policy and HORT-2863 Internship. 

According to Clement, the department is hoping to offer Business 1180 Dispensary Operations and Business Law 1180 Cannabis Law and Policy starting in Spring ’24 pending their approval in the curriculum process. 

Students can find more information about COD’s Horticulture program at

Students who have questions about the new program can email Brian Clement at [email protected].