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Colorado State University to Launch “Rigorous” Cannabis Science Degree Program

The bachelor’s in cannabis chemistry will offer in-depth knowledge of the plant’s biology.

Southern University Set to Launch First Medical Marijuana Program at a Historically Black College
Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of the cannabis plant, you might start looking at a move to Pueblo, Colorado. On Friday, the town’s Colorado State University campus got the state government’s go-ahead for a cannabis chemistry bachelor’s degree program.

It makes sense that such a program would launch in Colorado, where in 2019 dispensary sales hit a whopping $1.72 billion. That’s a whole lot of cannabis financial pie of which graduates with a cannabis chemistry degree could grab a piece. 

But the school is adamant that the establishment of the degree does not mean that they are weed industry boosters. 

“Hemp and marijuana has really come to the forefront in a lot of economic sectors in the country,” said dean of science and mathematics David Lehmpuhl. “We’re not pro-cannabis or anti-cannabis. What we’re about will be the science, and training students to look at that science.

The course will feature two tracks — biology and a more analytical chemistry-focused degree. Both will include classes in math, physics, neurobiology, biochemistry, genetics, and analytical chemistry. Administrators say they expect demand for the program to be high — as many as 60 enrolled students after four years of the program. 

“The new major is a proactive response to a rapidly changing national scene regarding the cannabis plant,” stated the program’s proposal. 

A Plethora of Pot Programs

Colorado State is not the first institution of higher education to recognize the degree opportunities within the cannabis industry. In 2017, Northern Michigan University announced the creation of a “medicinal plant chemistry” degree whose course matter largely focuses on cannabis.

Last fall, Michigan’s smallest state university, Lake Superior State, launched what it calls the country’s first degree program in cannabis chemistry with 41 enrolled students. 

“Our program is designed to walk the students through testing and the chemistry behind what’s going on in the cannabis plant, so in consumer products, consumer safety, law enforcement and how all those things combine and interact from a chemistry perspective,” said an assistant professor from the LSSU program, Benjamin Southwell.

The University of Maryland has also stepped into the world of cannabis credentialing. Its master of science in medicinal cannabis science and therapeutics degree program began accepting applications last year. The program aims to “provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to support patients and the medical cannabis industry, add to existing research in the field, and develop well-informed medical cannabis policy,” according to a press release.

Ohio’s Hocking College was accredited to start offering a cannabis lab technician major in 2018. School administrators say the program will focus on the chemical and biological make up of the plant, but will also provide a look at the history and present of the cannabis industry. 

Last year an Israeli college also announced plans to offer a bachelor of arts degree in behavioral sciences with a specialization in medicinal marijuana, intended to expand knowledge of cannabis’ psychological health potential.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    William Sullivan

    February 17, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    What a bold move from Colorado State University. Hope that after launching this new science degree program, the stigma between cannabis and people will slowly fade. And I bet many students will shift courses after this good news!

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