Cannabis Studies

With a focus on social and environmental responsibility, the bachelor’s degree program explores the historical, cultural, economic and political contexts of cannabis legalization.

Drawing curriculum across  18 disciplines, the program will prepare students to be stewards of social change in complex policy landscapes, developing skills in critical and analytic thinking, writing, communicating with diverse communities, as well as engaging with science and research. Shedding light on the implications of contemporary social problems on the limits, possibilities and promises of cannabis policy reform to address them is the key to building a sustainable and equitable future.

For an example of the applied work that our Cannabis Studies students are doing, please visit the Cannabis Studies Lab website.

Why this Program


Grounded in the liberal arts and dedicated to a stigma-free approach, the program is the only one of its kind in the United States.


The program is designed to explore the intersection of cannabis policy reform and society across disciplines, and it draws on the expertise of professors from Sociology, Anthropology, Biology, Forestry, Environmental Science, Geography, History, Social Work, Native American Studies, Kinesiology, Criminology & Justice Studies and more.


Given the historical significance of cannabis community, politics, and markets in the region, the program explores relevant local issues that highlight important trends in the rest of the nation and the world.

Faculty Expertise

Among the nation’s top cannabis scholars and researchers, our faculty have examined the impacts and mitigation of cannabis criminalization; principles of sustainable and regenerative development; the environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation on public lands; and uneven geographies of regulation, business taxation, and regulatory compliance matters, and more.


Degree concentrations in Equity & Social Justice and Environmental Stewardship lead to a range of career pathways in professions tasked with integrating cannabis into society, from community advocacy to policy implementation.

Environmental Stewardship

Grounds students in bioregional values and practices developed by the countercultural people who came to Humboldt County watersheds in the 1960s and founded two institutions of global significance: a radical environmental movement and the American sinsemilla cannabis industry. Graduates will learn principles of regenerative agriculture and environmental policy reform to prepare them for service in the public and private sector.

Equity and Social Justice

Grounds students in drug policy reform values and practices. This policy stewardship concentration centers intersectional social movement values and practices to prepare graduates to work inside and outside regulatory institutions to be change agents in landscapes of significant social reform, especially cannabis legalization from the local to the global level.

Get Involved

The program hosts the speaker series, which focuses on immediate issues related to cannabis policy reforms and implementation from the local to the global scale. The event provides students direct access to experts who are examining the broader social impacts of cannabis prohibition and legalization.

The Sociological & Criminological Student Association is an organization of Sociology and Criminology & Justice Studies undergraduate students, and Sociology graduate students, who work together to plan events and projects that relate to social inequality and justice.

There are opportunities to support research by faculty involved in Cannabis Studies and the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (HIIMR). Formed in 2012, HIIMR was the first academic research institute in California devoted to cannabis research. It is a research and analysis organization created to study and inform cannabis reform policies and markets.

Our Faculty

Dominic Corva

Assistant Professor

Department of Sociology

Terry Henkel


Department of Biological Sciences

Joshua Meisel


Department of Sociology

Joseph Oduro Appiah

Assistant Professor

Department of Geography, Environment & Spatial Analysis

Elizabeth Rienzi


Department of Sociology

Anthony Silvaggio

Associate Professor & Chair

Department of Sociology

Nate Swenson


Department of Forestry, Fire & Rangeland Management

**Per Cal State University policy, at this time the Cannabis Studies major does not include touching cannabis or training or curriculum in cultivating, processing, or selling cannabis.

Possible Careers

The knowledge and skills students gain through the program can be applied to many different careers that specialize in cannabis and other industries. These include compliance officers, research and environmental scientists, attorneys, and accounting specialists.

  • Policy
  • Environmental Management
  • Community Development
  • Nonprofit Advocacy
  • Consulting
  • Law
  • Sustainability
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Compliance
  • Regulation
  • Journalism and Media