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Cooking With Cannabis Class in Colorado Fights Stigma, Promotes Education

At MSU Denver, Affiliate Professor Shannon Donnelly teaches the class “Cannabis 101.” The course was only offered in Spring 2021, but began again on Nov. 8, 2022 according to the university’s class description.

There are many topics to be discussed, including the dispensary’s inner workings, different products sold and legal issues surrounding cultivation, distribution and possession.

Additionally, the students learn about CBD and cannabis in a culinary setting. Donnelly is also the Cannabis Process Navigator for Denver. She explained that students will learn how to cook with CBD. “We start with federally compliant CBD isolate which has no THC in it whatsoever,” Donnelly said.

While the class is a legitimate exploration of one of the nation’s most robust cannabis markets, Donnelly shared that not everyone agrees. “Most of the feedback when I tell people I’m cooking with cannabis is ‘no, that’s not actually happening,’” she said. “‘That’s not a real class for a college,’ and it’s like yes, it is, and your students can take it.”

The students learn how to mix vegetable oil with CBD and then they can start to explore different recipe possibilities. 9News spoke to Donnelly that the students made cornbread puree and barbecue shrimp last week with a local cook.

Liad Sherer, a student pursuing cybersecurity as a major, was also interviewed by the news station about his decision to enroll in the elective course. “I’m trying to just improve both as a cook as well as someone who enjoys cannabis and wants to know how to use it,” Sherer said. “I’d love to do this as a hobby, and I’d love to do this maybe as a part-time job.”

The course is a basic introduction to cannabis and could lead to a variety of careers. There are many roles that can be created by cannabis, such as private chefs, edibles makers, or budtenders. Normalizing these occupations helps to break down stigma. “That’s kind of this fun thing that I get to kind of help the students figure out,” she said. “Classes like this allow me and our students to realize there’s a pathway for them in this industry, which is what we need.”

In November 2012, Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana. New data has shown that Colorado’s state has collected over $2.2 billion from cannabis taxes, and more than $13.4 billion through legal cannabis sales. The 2022 Leafly Jobs Report shows that Colorado has 38,337 job opportunities, second only to California with 83,607 There is an abundance of jobs in Colorado, so educated people are always in high demand.

The state of Colorado recently experienced a decline in monthly cannabis sales growth. This was according to September 2022’s data for June 2022. Sales of medical cannabis totaled $19235,656, a 34,534,293 decline from June 2021. The June sales of recreational marijuana were $127,157.358. This is down from the $152,719.813 in June 2021. This downward trend is concerning to some industry members, who believe that it could lead to lay-offs, small shop closures, and the end of brands that can’t keep up.

Even though Colorado has been experiencing declining sales, the state’s newer marijuana markets show signs of rapid growth. New Mexico has the highest cannabis sales record for October through November, having sold $40 million in the four previous months. New Jersey’s adult-use sales also went into effect in April this year, and sold $80 million in cannabis within the first 10 weeks. Nevada’s 2022 fiscal-year earnings saw nearly $1B in cannabis sales.