Higher education: Michigan University opens 'first degree of its kind' in growing marijuana

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A university has just started a new degree in growing marijuana.  

Medicinal Plant Chemistry at Northern Michigan University is a four-year course involving chemistry, biology, botany, horticulture, marketing and finance.

Only in its first semester, the class already has 12 students and the number is increasing every week, according to Dr Mark Paulsen, director of the university’s chemistry department.  

But far from being an easy ride, students say the course is rigorous and challenging.

Nineteen year old sophomore Alex Roach told the Detroit Free Press: ‘When they hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who say, ‘Wow, cool dude. You’re going to get a degree growing marijuana.’ But it’s not an easy degree at all.’   

The legal marijuana business employs between 165,000 and 230,000 Americans – so it’s no wonder universities are spotting a chance to become a major pipeline for the industry.

Courses relating to the marijuana business already exist at Harvard, University of Denver, Vanderbilt University and Ohio State University among others – but NMU claims this is ‘the only degree program of its kind.’ 

Its website reads: ‘Increasing legitimacy and legality of medicinal plants nationwide has created great demand for qualified technical personnel and great opportunity for the skilled entrepreneur in the cannabis, herbal extract, and natural product industries.

‘Medicinal Plant Chemistry at Northern Michigan University is the only 4-year undergraduate degree program of its kind designed to prepare students for success in the emerging industries relating to medicinal plant production, analysis, and distribution.’

Brandon Cangield, an associate chemistry professor at NMU, told CBS Detroit: 'The need for this is so great.' (stock image)

Brandon Cangield, an associate chemistry professor at NMU, told CBS Detroit: ‘The need for this is so great.’ 

At the moment there’s no hands-on experience as the university doesn’t grow marijuana on campus – but this could change if cultivation rules relax.

Brandon Cangield, an associate chemistry professor at NMU, told CBS Detroit: ‘The need for this is so great.

‘You go to some of these cannabis industry conferences and everyone is talking about how they need labs, they need labs. 

‘Or the bigger operations are trying to set up their own labs in house and they need trained analysts. And the skill set required to perform these analysis is perfectly matched with an undergraduate level education.’

Michigan voted to legalize medical marijuana use in 2008. One in five Americans now lives in a state where marijuana is legal, including California which takes $1billion a year in cannabis taxes.

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Source: 420 Intel – United States

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