My Business of Marijuana Course

This page provides an overview of the unique Business of Marijuana course that I created and taught at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver between 2017 and 2019. My experience with this course was one of the most rewarding of my career and generated unprecedented interest from students, industry and the media. I have not taught the course since arriving at the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia but am currently working with a small number of students in an independent study format and working towards offering a full UVA course in a future term. I welcome inquiries about teaching, executive education and consulting opportunities related to this topic. Last updated: October 3, 2022.

  • The course was offered at the University of Denver for the first time in Spring 2017 and again in Spring 2018, Winter 2019 and Spring 2019 quarters to ~150 total students.
  • The course was open to full-time undergraduate and graduate students at the Daniels College of Business, University of DenverThe course drew interest from a wider pool of potential students than any course I have ever taught – freshman who had just arrived at DU, university staff members, alumni including some eligible for DU’s senior audit program for those 60 years and old, parents of prospective students, marijuana industry professionals, and many individuals seeking to enter the industry.
  • The course was taught in the standard Daniels elective format with 20 2-hour sessions over 10 weeks and examined various business aspects of the industry including management, accounting, finance, marketing, ethics, and others. It combined relevant analysis of the industry with a wide range of guest speakers who were currently involved and affected by Colorado’s marijuana industry. Students individually analyzed a company in the cannabis industry and worked in teams to develop a business proposal/pitch for a startup cannabis business that was presented in front of a panel of senior industry professionals.
  • Many of the topics covered in the course are covered in this video series from the DU Emerging Ideas program.
  • Spring 2017 guest speakers included Michael Elliott (former ED Marijuana Industry Group), Sam Kamin (DU Law Professor), Wanda James (SimplyPure), Nick Richards, Kayvan Khalatbari (Denver Relief), Tripp Keber (Dixie Brands), Lauren Ginsberg (Native Roots), Mason Tvert, Tommy Joyce (Blackrock Originals), Seth Yakatan and a number of others.
  • Spring 2018 guest speakers included Sam Kamin (DU Law Professor), Ryan Smith (COO, Cure Holdings), Wanda James (SimplyPure), Ryan Hunter (COO Willie’s Reserve), Tripp Keber (Dixie Brands), Max Murphy (Cultivated Synergy), Cindi Sovine (Utopia Wellness), and a number of others.
  • Winter 2019 guest speakers included Sam Kamin (DU Law Professor), Ryan Smith (COO, Cure Holdings), Amanda Fox (Pioneer Interests), Ryan Hunter (COO Willie’s Reserve), Nancy Whiteman (CEO, Wana Brands), Jessica Billingsley (CEO, MJFreeway) and a number of others.
  • Spring 2019 guest speakers included Sam Kamin (DU Law Professor), Ray Bingham (BDS Analytics), Michael O’Neill (Safe Harbor Private Banking), Emily Fata (Diagon Consulting), Alan Kane, Wanda James (SimplyPure), Nancy Whiteman (Wana Brands) and a number of others.
  • The course received considerable media and industry attention:
  • The top three teams from our first-ever Spring 2017 business pitch competition:

  • In 2013, I published one of the first, if not the first, business teaching cases on the Marijuana industry, Medical Marijuana Industry Group: Outdoor Advertising in Denver. The case is based on a proposal from Denver City Council to restrict outdoor advertising of marijuana in the City and County of Denver and the subsequent responses of affected stakeholder groups, in particular the Medical Marijuana Industry Group led by executive director Michael Elliot. The teaching note/instructor’s manual for the case is available upon request.
News coverage of the first day of my Spring 2017 Business of Marijuana course.
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