The Business of Cannabis: Opportunities and Risks in an Emerging Market

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Summer 2017 quarter (Full Session)

Taught by

This class will provide students with an overview of the emerging cannabis marketplace and what one can expect to find there.  In November 2016, four states voted to legalize recreational cannabis, and another four states voted to approve or expand the use of medical marijuana.  Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of the states in the United States.  However, with the election of a new President, tolerance for marijuana use may change at the federal level.  Because the federal government may try to stop cannabis sales in states where it is now legal, cannabis-based businesses face an ambiguous environment.

Historically, other drugs, some arguably worse than cannabis, have been treated differently by legislators and the courts.  We will look at the history of legal and legislative treatment of other drugs and intoxicants.  Although cannabis has been a part of the human experience for centuries, a formerly deviant and illegal activity is now being normalized.  Students will consider historical perspectives on cannabis culture, production, consumption, and regulation.  This class will also explore regulatory and approval processes in the emerging cannabis industry.  Given the changing legal environment for cannabis, students will evaluate the legal and ethical issues pertaining to cannabis, including considerations of gender and racial equity.

We will examine economic and tax impacts, as well as financing and operating challenges for medical and recreational based cannabis businesses.  Students will be exposed to contemporary social, health, and policy issues that are relevant to cannabis in Washington and beyond.  Class sessions will contain some dedicated time for news updates regarding cannabis-related issues.  A major goal of this class is to develop practical business skills; however, it is NOT a how-to guide for establishing a cannabis-based business, but the study of an emerging marketplace.

Program Details

Fields of Study

business and management law and government policy


Summer Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online