How cannabis fits into the M.S. Herbal Product Design and Manufacture

Cannabis is among the many herbs studied in the M.S. Herbal Product Design and Manufacture program. Through this program, individuals interested in entering the cannabis industry will acquire both the necessary grounding in herbal medicine as well as knowledge and skills specific to the cannabis herb. Whether your interest lies in CBD-dominant, hemp-based dietary supplement and wellness products, or THC-dominant medical and recreational marijuana, as a graduate of the program you will be well positioned to enter the rapidly expanding cannabis-based marketplace.

Graduates of the M.S. Herbal Product Design and Manufacture program will acquire knowledge and skills in the areas of botany, medicine making, botanical safety, research, quality assurance, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), analytical chemistry, phytochemistry, structure/function claims, and New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) claims. These areas of study are highly relevant to all sectors of the cannabis industry. In addition, the program’s coverage of a range of therapeutic herbs provides a unique skillset for formulating and creating products that complement cannabis with other herbs to target specific health and wellness goals.

The M.S. Herbal Product Design and Manufacture program is a non-experiential program with respect to cannabis; there are no internships, laboratories, field work, or hands on work with cannabis as part of this curriculum and program.

Ten of the thirteen courses in the M.S. Herbal Product Design and Manufacture program include cannabis among the herbs discussed, in ways that are directly applicable to working in the cannabis industry. Key course content includes a review of safety concerns and toxicological research; how to effectively use cannabis (both medical and hemp-based) clinically; methods to extract and create product; applied analytical methods to meet high quality assurance and good manufacturing practice standards; and strategies to research product development. A final case study in herbal product design and manufacture engages students in solving real world problems faced by manufacturers, with an option for students to consider a challenge involving cannabis-based products. These courses and the ways in which cannabis is discussed include:

M.S. Herbal Product Design and Manufacture Courses – Cannabis-Related Course Content (see full course descriptions below):

HRB600 Fundamentals of Herbal Medicine (3 cr) This course includes an introduction to psychoactive plants used for therapeutic purposes.
HRB605 Materia Medica I (3 cr) This course includes a review of both CBD and THC dominant therapeutic uses.
HRB622 Herbal Pharmacy: Evaluating and Manufacturing Quality Herbal Products (3 cr) This course includes a review of approaches to making a hemp-based CBD dominant topical cream.
HRB641 Safety of Botanical Medicine (3 cr) This course includes a review of safety profiles using cannabis products.
HRB642 Dispensary Practices and Quality Assessment of Herbal Medicine (3 cr) This course includes a review of GMP analysis of cannabis using both HPLC and TLC methods.
HRB653 Extraction, Analytical Methods, and Formulation Strategies (3 cr) This course includes a review of extraction strategies for both THC and CBD dominant therapeutic uses.
HRB656 Phytochemistry, Pharmacology and Introduction to Analytical Methods (3 cr) This course includes a review of the chemistry of both cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis.
HRB705 Materia Medica II (3 cr) This course includes a review of formulating with both THC and CBD dominant therapeutic products.
HRB781 Research in Botanical Pharmacognosy (3 cr) This course includes a review of the basic principles of ethanol and oil-based cannabis extractions, focusing on strategies to drive the phytochemical profile to meet specific product requirements.
HRB794 Case Study in Herbal Product Design and Manufacture (3 cr) Students work with a stakeholder from the herbal and cannabis supplement market to consider a real-world problem presented by the manufacturer. The case study rotates to new problems each time offered.


Career Opportunities in the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry is made up of three fields – 1) medical marijuana, 2) recreational marijuana, and 3) hemp-based, CBD-dominant cannabis. Each has experienced and is projected to have significant growth. The increase in use and sales of cannabis nationally is driving significant job growth in the field.

Legalization and Use

As of January 2020, medical and recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states, medical marijuana only is legal in 22 states, and hemp is federally legal in all 50 states (1). The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 24 million Americans above the age of 18 were users of marijuana, representing nearly 9% of the total population; marijuana use among the same group increased from 21% in 2002 to 30% in 2017 (2).

Overall Cannabis Industry Growth

New Frontier Data reports overall sales within the legalized U.S. cannabis industry, which includes both recreational and medical marijuana, were expected to reach $13.6 billion throughout 2019, a 32% increase over 2018 sales (3). Total combined U.S. legal sales are projected to continue to grow at an annual rate of 14%, reaching $30 billion in sales by 2025. Total legal recreational use sales are projected to grow 16% to $16.6 billion in sales by 2025. If the total U.S. cannabis market were to be legalized, Barclay’s (4) estimates the market could be worth $41 billion by 2028, and Cowen and Company estimates a market value of $80 billion by 2030 (5). Globally, Fortune Business Insights reports the cannabis market (including medical, recreational and hemp-based) was $10.6 billion in 2018 and projects it to reach $97.3 billion by the end of 2026, a 33% annual growth from 2019 to 2026 (6).

Medical and Recreational Marijuana Industry Growth

New Frontier Data projects combined U.S. sales of medical cannabis to grow 17% annually from $4.4 billion in 2018 to $13.1 billion in 2025 (3,7). In Maryland, sales doubled in the first year of legalization (2018-2019) and required a second round of business license applications for medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivators, and processors to meet consumer demand (8). Globally, BDS Analytics projects sales of recreational marijuana at $83 billion and medical marijuana at $19 billion by 2027.

CDB Industry Growth

Significant consumer interest exists in hemp-based and CBD-containing cannabis supplements. Hemp-derived CBD is now available in general retail channels outside of licensed cannabis dispensaries, including online, drug stores, natural products, beauty, convenience, grocery and pet stores. Research firm Brightfield Group projects the U.S. CBD industry will outpace the marijuana market and reach $23.7 billion in sales by 2023 (9). BDS Analytics forecasts U.S. CBD sales to reach $20 billion by 2024, accounting for nearly 44% of the $45 billion total forecasted cannabinoid market (10). Hemp-based cannabis sales of CBD-based supplements grew 332% from 2018 to 2019, with over $52 million in 2019 sales, making hemp-based cannabis supplements the top selling herbal supplement in the U.S. market (11). Current herbal supplement manufacturers are increasingly embracing CBD based cannabis products. The percent of natural product manufacturers selling such products doubled in the first six months of 2019, with 75% of the industry planning on launching new CBD-based products over the next two years (10).

Cannabis Industry Job Growth

Marijuana Business Daily’s 2019 Marijuana Business Factbook estimates the number of full-time workers in the U.S. marijuana industry was between 130,000 and 160,000 in 2018, increased to 175,000 to 215,000 in 2019, and will reach 385,000 to 475,000 workers by 2023 (8). BDS Analytics and Arcview estimate as many as 630,000 cannabis jobs by 2025 (12). Leafly’s Cannabis Job Count report suggests that the cannabis industry is among the largest job creation engines in the U.S (13).

The career opportunities vary based on the segment of the market (medical vs. recreational vs. hemp-based cannabis). However, all three segments demand similar knowledge and skill sets that are basic to the world of herbal supplements. Nationally based cannabis-specific hiring firm Vangst provides a benchmarking salary guide for working in the cannabis industry and the requirements for employment in each state (14).

Careers that graduates of the M.S. Herbal Product Design may be qualified for include:

  • Cannabis Jobs in Testing: Laboratory Analysts, Laboratory Technicians, Quality Control Inspector, and Marijuana Tester
  • Cannabis Jobs in Processing and Manufacturing: Extractor, Product Developer/Formulator, Marketing Lead, and Regulatory Specialist
  • Cannabis Jobs in Dispensaries and Retail: Budtender, Dispensary (or Store) Manager


M.S. Herbal Product Design and Manufacture  – Course Descriptions for Courses that Include Cannabis-Related Content

HRB600 Fundamentals of Herbal Medicine (3 cr)

This course provides a foundation for the continued study of plant medicine. Combining scholarship with a hands-on component, we explore a variety of elements shaping the modern practice of herbal medicine in the United States today. This course reviews traditional rationale for herbal use as well as the foundational modern sciences that support a contemporary evidence-informed perspective. Coursework acquaints students with topics such as the herbal lexicon, materia medica, plant ecology, historical & cultural perspectives, political influences, phytochemistry, modern research, safety, posology (the study of dosage) and herbal preparations.

HRB605 Materia Medica I (3 cr)

This course investigates approximately 30 of the most commonly used herbal medicines and related supplements in the United States. Each herb will be discussed from the ethnobotanical perspective as well as the modern phytotherapeutic perspective, with a focus on pharmacological understanding and relevant clinical trials. Special emphasis will be placed on topics relevant to the contemporary clinician, including quality control, interactions, and other safety parameters of each herb covered. This course provides the student with the necessary skills to effectively research herbs not covered in the class.

HRB622 Herbal Pharmacy: Evaluating and Manufacturing Quality Herbal Products (3 cr)

This is primarily a hands-on course providing techniques for harvesting and drying herbs and incorporating them into herbal products and medicinal foods. It provides the basic theory and skills required to manufacture high-quality medicinal herb products for oral and topical application. Students learn the foundational principles of extraction, the properties of common solvents (e.g. water, alcohol and oils) and the solubility of various herbal constituents. Students apply their learning by creating herbal foods and extracts for display at a community herbal products show. In addition to making their own “kitchen pharmacy” preparations, students learn how to evaluate the quality of the wide range of herbal products manufactured by the natural products industry.

HRB641 Safety of Botanical Medicine (3 cr)

Students will apply skills, principles, and knowledge to critically examine the safety of herbal products, including basic toxicology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacology necessary to analyze the potential acute, chronic, or idiosyncratic toxicities, as well herb/herb and drug/herb interactions. In addition, there are numerous activities where students will interact with the materials. Each week, students will determine the myth or reality of a safety scenario through peer discussion. Students will examine a case study through peer-assessment activity where they will determine their plan of action through the application of materials and concepts both provided and discovered. Students will also be using materials and concepts to create, then assess, multiple choice questions in their area of focus.

HRB642 Dispensary Practices and Quality Assessment of Herbal Medicine (3 cr)

This course develops the ability of the student to identify and evaluate the authenticity and quality of raw herbal material using organoleptic analysis, microscopic and macroscopic identification, and interpretation of assay and spec sheets. Additionally, chromatographic analysis dispensary practices are introduced. Opportunities to extend dispensary training are available within the Internship course. This course combines analytical rigor of quality control with the whole-system aspects of quality assurance in an industry context.

HRB653 Extraction, Analytical Methods, and Formulation Strategies (3 cr)

In this experiential course, students develop optimal strategies for extraction of herbal products based on the effects of pH on solubility, matrix effects, heat and sonication. The influence of thickeners, stabilizers and carriers is also discussed. Students will learn to identify `fit for purpose` analytical methods, to write analytical specification ranges, to communicate with analytical labs, and to analyze lab reports. Woven throughout the course are formulation processes incorporating extraction and analytical methods, which faculty and peers will review.

HRB656 Phytochemistry, Pharmacology and Introduction to Analytical Methods (3 cr)

In this course, students learn a unique version of pharmacology that emphasizes traditional classifications based on energetics complemented with modern pharmacological principles and knowledge of the chemical structure of the active constituents in herbal medicines as identified by analytical methods. Reviewing the analytic methods used to detect plant compounds, as well as characterizing the chemical structure that contributes to both the biological activity and potential toxicity, students will enhance their understanding of the unique structural features of these phytochemicals. Knowledge of plant chemistry provides the underpinning of the student`s therapeutic approach by linking the beneficial clinical applications of herbs to classes of chemical compounds responsible for the effects. It also provides a rational for choice of methods in the preparation of herbal medicines. In addition to standard principles, less conventional aspects of pharmacology including the concepts of synergy and hormesis, along with emerging sciences such as pharmacogenomics and systems biology will be covered.

HRB705 Materia Medica II (3 cr)

The purpose of this course is to help students further develop their relationship with individual herbal remedies. In the course we will evaluate the differences between herbs used in similar therapeutic scenarios and in the herbal industry. In addition, learning will center around the development of a narrative to tell a story of the medicinal use of the plant, with an emphasis on botanical classification, parts used, modern and traditional uses, pharmacological properties, dosage and safety issues for a core group of herbal remedies.

HRB781 Research in Botanical Pharmacognosy (3 cr)

In this course, students experience herbal product development research in collaboration with the garden and the dispensary. The training in Botanical Pharmacognosy takes place in phases through mentored learning. The first phase starts with a literature review of production attributes such as the chemical ecology of medicinal plants, process, identification of active and necessary fractions, matrix effects, solubility, extract concentration, organoleptic and analytical measurement of active components. The second phase consists of review of the strength of evidence for identified phytochemical fraction, the dosing, and the clinical mode of action. This culminates in the third phase, which is the final write-up of the results for the justification of the development of the botanical product and/or for publication in peer-reviewed journal.

HRB794 Case Study in Herbal Product Design and Manufacture (3 cr)

The capstone course challenges student problem solving skills in collaboration with a small group of peers. Students will work on real world herbal product design problems that originate from industry archives or representing real, current problems faced by a company in the field of herbal manufacturing. It will provide students an opportunity to interact and network with industry experts in strategizing their best solutions. Students are required to present the results of the study to the MUIH herbal community.



  1. Interactive Marijuana Legislation Map. Cannabis Business Retrieved from
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 18-5068, NSDUH Series H-53). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from:
  3. Hudock, C. (2019) S. Legal Cannabis Market Growth. New Frontier Data. Retrieved from:
  4. Sheetz, M. (2019) Barclays estimates US weed market would be $28 billion if legalized today, growing to $41 billion by 2028, CNBC. Retrieved from:
  5. Owusu, T. (2019) Cowen’s Cannabis Analyst Raises 2030 U.S. Market Forecast to $80 Billion. The Retrieved from:
  6. Cannabis/Marijuana Market Size, Share and Industry Analysis By Type (Flowers/Buds and Concentrates), By Application (Medical, Recreational (Edibles and Topicals), and Industrial Hemp), and Regional Forecast 2019-2026. Fortune Business Insights. Retrieved from:
  7. Arcview Market Research. (2019)The Roadmapto a $57 Billion Worldwide Market [White Paper]. Retrieved from:
  8. Cowee, M. (2019) Chart: US cannabis employment to jump 34% in 2019 thanks to California, growth in new markets. Marijuana Business Daily. Retrieved from:
  9. Brightfield Group. (2019) US CBD Market to Grow 700% Through 2019 [Press Release]. Retrieved from:
  10. BDS Analytics (2019)The Global Cannabinoids Market: Will CBD Overtake THC? [White Paper]. Retrieved from:
  11. Smith T., et al. (2019)Herbal Supplement Sales in US Increase by 9.4% in 2018: Record growth driven by sales of CBD, mushrooms, and immune-health products. HerbGram. 23: 62-73. Retrieved from:
  12. Parfitt, S. (2018) U.S. Marijuana Industry Jobs Estimated to Triple by 2025. com. Retrieved from:
  13. Barcott, B. and Whitney, B. (2019) Special Report: Cannabis Jobs Count. Call it America’s hidden job boom. Leafly. Retrieved from:
  14. Cannabis Jobs Database. Retrieved from:

Return to the M.S. Herbal Product Design and Manufacture program: