LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Like many college students, Ruben Rojas spends his mornings the library studying. 

But instead of writing a thesis on the American Revolution or analyzing data for a statistics course, he takes notes on the ins and outs of growing cannabis.  

What You Need To Know

  • Bellarmine University is offering courses in cannabis education 

  • The cannabis certificate program offers courses in agriculture, business, health and risk management 

  • Ruben Rojas is studying so he can own a cannabis farm. 

  • Starting Jan. 1, 2025, Senate Bill 47 will legalize medicinal cannabis for registered and qualified Kentuckians 

“For me, cannabis is simply just a catalyst for harmonious alternative healing,” Rojas said. 

The 27-year-old is enrolled in the Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture Certificate course through Bellarmine University, which offers a program for students to learn about the cannabis industry.

His goal is to become a master grower and own a cannabis farm with the mission of helping people heal.

"I love the idea of being able to hand someone a cannabis product that they have for confidence in me to be able to provide, and I feel that I'm capable of doing that," he said. "It feels like that's a step in the process of it as well.”

He’s halfway through the 24-week course, which focuses on the process of cultivating cannabis, from creating the best environment for the plant to preparing the plant for customers. 

“If I want to be hands on with cannabis, you've got to know how to grow it," Rojas said. "I feel like there’s the nitty gritty with everything, and I feel like there's no cannabis industry with no cannabis.” 

The university has teamed up with Green Flower, a training program working to educate people about the industry. The online, self-paced program also includes courses covering cannabis business; compliance and risk management; and health care and medicine.

"Growing cannabis is an exciting but also (a) complex and difficult task, especially when it's like Kentucky or growing a lot of hemp, which is essentially the same plant," said Max Simon, Green Flower co-founder and CEO. "It's important to really understand all the factors that are required to grow this plant in a high-quality way, from seed to sale."

During the 2023 legislative session, Gov. Andy Beshear, D-Ky., signed Senate Bill 47 into law, legalizing medical cannabis. Simon said he has seen regulations change quickly during his 10 years in the cannabis industry. 

“Those who are most well-prepared for that change are often the ones who get the best opportunities," he said. 

Rojas said he believes in the significant impact the industry could have. He is preparing, so when the time comes, he will be ready to take advantage of the opportunities. 

“I've really felt myself change in an extremely positive way," he said. "Being able to just self-identify with being a scholar in a sense is pretty cool, especially when it comes to cannabis.”