Contact: Angela DeYoung

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – It’s no secret that recreational cannabis sales in Michigan continue to grow. With this growth, skilled tradespeople in the industry are now in high demand, and Western Michigan University students will soon be preparing to meet the need.

Haworth Business College is offering a new cannabis marketing course starting in spring 2023. Taught by Dr. Russell Zwankadirector of the food marketing program and associate professor of marketing, the class will focus on several areas of interest, including the history of cannabis, ethical and responsible marketing, consumer characteristics, retail channels and more.

Dr.  Russell Zwanka sits in front of a computer.

Dr. Russell Zwanka will teach the new cannabis marketing course.

Apparently, cannabis is one of the fastest expanding consumer goods segments in the industry. According to reports from, over $1.1 billion in cannabis sales were reported in 2021, which generated over $250 million in tax revenue for the state, and similar trends are unfolding in other states. A February report from Leafly found that Michigan has the third most cannabis-related jobs in the country.

“Industry growth and accelerated national legalization are creating new jobs in a powerful way,” says Dr Kelley O’Reilly, head of the Marketing Department. “In marketing cannabis, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the supply chain, cultivation, cannabinoids, history, trends in consumer use, health benefits, how food and cannabis crops intersect and the importance of state tax revenue. This knowledge will help distinguish our students from those of other universities. We look forward to cannabis marketing helping us continue to strengthen our place in the industry for the collaboration and research of retailers and manufacturers.”

The new course is designed to equip students with the tools and background needed to successfully enter the growing cannabis industry. The push to legalize recreational marijuana, along with the increased popularity of other cannabis products such as Cannabidiol (CBD), has created a need for a greater understanding of products and marketing strategy. Undergraduate and graduate students will be able to register for the course, which will be offered in a HyFlex format, with options to attend in person or online, one night per week.

Zwanka has completed extensive research into the cannabis market, with work that includes three books on Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, three published academic papers, two student-led research projects, and additional ongoing research as the business continues to develop.

This is a growing business that is changing every day,” says Zwanka. “It’s an exciting place for consumer goods and retail where we can show thought leadership and training. This is extremely important for food marketing as well as supply chain management and business sales and marketing degrees in addition to MBA students in these fields.

WMU Haworth’s Food and Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing Program is one of the the best food marketing programs in the country. “As part of our top-ranked food marketing program, we want to ensure our students are well-prepared for trends in the industry,” Zwanka says. “These trends also affect the necessary skill sets for productive and attractive careers. The food marketing program is able to maintain a high employment rate due to the constant evolution and updating of the curriculum, so it is very important. “

About WMU’s Food and Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing Program

The food and consumer packaged goods marketing major offers experiential learning opportunities such as study abroad, internships, industry tours, business networking, and the annual Food Marketing and Supply Chain Conference. More than 80 leading businesses make up WMU’s Food Industry Advisory Board, providing generous support for scholarships, class projects, cases and presentations, as well as numerous employment opportunities.

Learn more about WMU Haworth’s Food and Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing program.

For more WMU news, arts and eventsvisit WMU News online.

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