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Daniels Launches Business of Marijuana Class

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University of Denver

Interest in pilot course may result in future offerings

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Marijuana Leaf

The interest in marijuana is expanding from the pot shops to the classroom, and the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver is doing its part to roll with the times.

The college is launching a pilot class called Business of Marijuana, which begins March 28 and runs for 10 weeks. Based on the response, the class may be offered again in the future. While it’s not tied to any specific major, it is offered as a general business elective for graduate students and a management elective for undergraduates.

“I currently have 24 students enrolled and have had interest from others, ranging from freshmen to executive MBA students and DU alumni, suggesting there is demand to offer the course again,” said Paul Seaborn, assistant professor at Daniels. “As the size, visibility and legitimacy of the industry has increased within Colorado, so has interest from students.”

Seaborn proposed the course back in the winter of 2016, based on increasing interest from Daniels students. He is working with Daniels Executive Education on the preliminary steps to develop a possible certificate program in the specialty for those not enrolled at DU.

The Business of Marijuana course, he said, will offer a broad overview of the impacts of the marijuana industry on various business disciplines, including management, strategy, finance, accounting, marketing and ethics. It will include a variety of readings from academic and media sources, individual and group projects, and interaction with a number of industry leaders.

Paul Seaborn
Asst. Prof. Paul Seaborn

“Developing a brand-new course on such a sensitive and fast-changing topic is not a quick or simple task, but from my perspective it is a long-term investment worth making,” Seaborn said. “Helping our students become better informed about this unique industry that is taking place all around them should make them more effective citizens and business professionals, regardless of how the industry or their career evolves.”

Seaborn, who came to Daniels in 2011 from Canada, took an interest in the topic just as the industry was emerging in Colorado. Since then, he’s published a case study on outdoor advertising issues facing the industry, organized academic workshops and panels, and hosted visits to DU by European professors and journalists who wanted to learn more about marijuana. He’s currently working on a number of academic research papers related to the industry.

While his upcoming marijuana course has garnered some initial interest, not everyone is eager to engage or be associated with the topic.

“I have also heard from some students who are reluctant to enroll due to the potential stigma of being associated with this topic and industry,” Seaborn said. “That range of responses illustrates one reason why I see this as a subject worth examining.”