Cambridge is teaching the world’s first business case study on weed

Joint studies.
Joint studies.
Image: Reuters/Mary Turner
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The ever-expanding cannabis industry has reached new heights—so to speak—as it is now being used as a financial case study for some of the world’s most elite business school students.

Collaborating with cannabis operator and investor White Sheep Corp, the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School is teaching the first-ever “seed to sale” accounting case to students, it announced this week. Per the university’s press release, the case:

examines questions raised about financial reporting in one of the world’s fastest growing industries, cannabis, aiming to guide students through the reporting process for an industry that is being legalized by an increasing number of jurisdictions. The case focuses, ultimately, on what key decisions go into deciding the fair value of a cannabis crop and how this is reflected on the financial statements.

Students in intermediate or advanced financial reporting or financial statement analysis courses will use the case to better understand and interpret financial reporting standards.

Though Cambridge is the first to focus on accounting, weed-related classes—following in the booming cultural and economic acceptance of cannabis at large, in recent years—have already cropped up at other schools. Canada has a college teaching marijuana cultivation and distribution. A university in Michigan offers an undergraduate degree in medicinal plant chemistry, focusing on the physiology of marijuana, while a business school in Colorado teaches an elective course on pot. And for those interested in becoming true “weed sommeliers,” there are private companies offering courses.

Cambridge’s “goal of the case is not to have students become experts on accounting in the cannabis industry,” the school’s press release emphasized. It is, rather, to “have them develop an understanding of the complexities behind financial reporting in the sector as well as the level of discretion that management has in dictating these figures.” Any hopes of using the case study to forge a lucrative career path—like the Harvard MBA graduate who is building a “Hermès of cannabis” luxury weed business, optimistically estimated to bring in $50 million a year—may be set just a bit too high.