High-er education

Unique marijuana degree can change the cannabis industry forever

Annalisse Crosswell // Contributor

Northern Michigan University (NMU) is offering a new four-year degree program that has caught people’s interest. This is the first semester that they are offering a degree “in marijuana”, otherwise known as the Medicinal Plant Chemistry Program.

It may seem like the ultimate call for stoners, but it only takes one glance at the academic requirements to see that this program would be a heavy undertaking. With a combination of courses including chemical equilibrium, atomic spectrometry and accounting and marketing – the program is no joking matter.

According to Brandon Canfield, the NMU professor that created the degree, supply and demand was a major motivation behind the program. “We’ve had an overwhelming response from growing operations, dispensaries and other businesses who want to take on our students as interns,” Canfield told local news outlets in Northern Michigan.

The study of marijuana for medicinal purposes is a good move forward, particularly for a nation that has such a huge issue with pharmaceutical overuse.

Not everybody agrees, however. As US Attorney General Jess Sessions said at the conservative Heritage Foundation, “I do think this whole country needs to stop being so lackadaisical about drugs. Much of the addiction starts with marijuana.”

Even so, it is hard to see this as anything less than a positive move forward with more states legalizing the use of medicinal cannabis. However, one major complication for students in the program is that marijuana is still illegal at a federal level in America. Because of this, the University cannot actually grow the plant for the students to observe. Instead, they examine other plants with medicinal value, and that knowledge is then applied to marijuana.

Between Justin Trudeau’s ever-elusive election promise of legalizing marijuana and the plethora of dispensary options in Vancouver, it seems there is at least a need here for qualified individuals who are knowledgeable about all aspects of the marijuana plant and the businesses that would be involved.

While smoking marijuana is slowly becoming much less stigmatized than it once was, its prospective legalization, the ensuing regulations and having an actual degree dedicated to the plant would decrease the stigma even faster, to the bene t of patients who use cannabis for chronic pain and other medical reasons.

Once marijuana is fully legalized, there will be a need for people who know how to safely and effectively grow and market it. But, it’s still early days for the program, and so besides discussion, the next logical step would be to watch and wait. Will the laws be changed by the time these students finish their degrees? If not, they might be stuck with a degree that, like so many others, is simply a very expensive piece of paper on the wall.

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