DES PLAINES (CBS) — Cannabis and campus life were once a distracting mix. Now, the expanding industry of pot has schools preparing college graduates for a future in the marijuana industry.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, Oakton Community College has helped Jason Reese land a job at a marijuana dispensary

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He’s among the first 100 students who just earned a certificate as a cannabis dispensary and patient care specialist at Oakton .

His course of studies?

“I have studied cannabis and the law, pharmacology, and cannabis dispensary management; that’s an imoortant part of the program,”  Reese said.

From hands on work in grow houses, to chemical testing, delivery logistics and patient communications, the nation’s marijuana industry is rapidly growing. With recreational use in Illinois coming on line next month, as many as 63,000 workers could be earning a paycheck in Illinois from working with legal weed over the next four or five years..

Oakton administrators say the certificate program is a response to industry leaders asking for help in finding qualified employees, especially in a medical setting.

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“It was difficult to hire workers comfortable talking with patients with chronic illnesses and discuss symptoms and identify correct medicines for them,” said Ruth Williams, vice president at Oakton.

Oakton Community College is not alone. Chicago State has a non-credit program, and Southern Illinois University is developing an agricultural cannabis course of studies.

Those schools follow in the footsteps of the University of Maryland, which is the country’s first school to offer a master’s program in medical cannabis and therapeutics.

Now Jason, who was a medical cannabis patient with a past career in pharmaceutical sales, is helping patients better understand which cannabis products are right for them.

“This is a late decision for me in my career, but it will be the last move I make,” Reese said.

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