Meet the Team Behind the Graduate Certificate in Cannabis Control: Gretchen Schmidt

Welcome to our new blog post series, “Meet the Team Behind the Graduate Certificate in Cannabis Control,” where we introduce the masterminds behind the program. In this series, you’ll get to know more about the people behind the program, their experience creating it, and the unique contributions each team member has made.

Gretchen Schmidt


Gretchen Schmidt

Faculty Program Director

 One of the backbones to the Graduate Certificate in Cannabis Control, Gretchen Schmidt is also the faculty program director for the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s in criminal justice programs at Excelsior College. Prior to her career in higher education, Schmidt worked in a law office, but soon after September 11, 2001, she decided to make the switch to education, feeling that she could make a bigger impact in the classroom than in the legal world.

When it comes to her role in the creation of the Graduate Certificate in Cannabis Control, Schmidt took the lead on identifying and developing the courses for the program.

Prior to development, Schmidt and the team conducted research and environmental scanning to identify the needs in the industry. Part of this included interviews with cannabis industry experts. The research she and the team did resulted in the three main themes they found important to cover: policy and compliance, commerce regulation, and risk assessment.

Cannabis industry experts were also interviewed to make sure the product she and the team were creating was well-rounded, rigorous, reflective of the industry, and practical for professionals seeking a graduate certificate. The development of the program also involved subject matter experts who offered key insights in providing the students with a strong foundation and teaching them how to dig deeper into their jurisdictions, as well as to learn, analyze, and critically evaluate regulations, policies, and risks.

As an educator with 20 years in higher education and a background in law and criminal justice, Schmidt applied her knowledge and experience to the new and emerging cannabis field.

Of course, the program means more to Schmidt than just the creation of the courses. She believes this knowledge will open up students’ eyes to the tensions and risks that exist in multiple layers within the cannabis industry. With this program, she hopes graduates take away a greater understanding of the regulatory environment and what works and what doesn’t, making a difference in the industry and cleaning up the complexity that currently exists.

Working on the program has been rewarding for Schmidt and has helped her learn about the long process of cannabis legalization, the real meaning of social equity, and how every aspect of the industry is complex and varies widely from state to state.

Excelsior College is fortunate to have Schmidt serve as such a vital part of the development of the Graduate Certificate in Cannabis Control. If reading about her involvement has inspired you to pursue an education about the cannabis industry, reach out to our admissions team today to learn more!