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Colorado State University Pueblo has a greenhouse full of marijuana plants. These plants look a lot like marijuana, but David Lehmpuhl, professor of chemistry and interim dean of the university’s STEM school, told students while visiting the greenhouse that smoking marijuana can cause headaches, not headaches.

These plants-deliberately lowering the content of THC, the compound responsible for the medicinal effects of cannabis-are part of the new bachelor’s degree program in cannabis biology and chemistry. The university launched the program in the fall of 2020 and has since attracted interest. There are about 15 students in the first batch, and 56 students will register for the major this fall.

Lehmpuhl said the enrollment level is “twice as much as we planned.” “It seems that the demand for it is very strong, which is exciting.”

Cannabis researchers say that as states legalize cannabis for medical and recreational uses, and scholars try to uncover the science and policy implications behind the many uses of cannabis, university courses focused on cannabis are growing. In particular, community colleges are taking advantage of the growing interest before the start of the fall semester as they try to meet the new demands of the emerging cannabis industry on the local labor market.

Denver Community College is one of these institutions. The college will launch a cannabis business applied science course in the upcoming academic year, and hopes to offer a bachelor’s degree course in applied science in the fall of 2022. The basic cannabis course is initially limited to 20 students, but 10 places have been added to meet student needs. Depending on the size of the waiting list after the fall semester starts on August 23, another part of the course may be added.

Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, and wages in this field scope According to a report in January, it ranges from $15 per hour to $150,000 per year, depending on the position. catch, A professional recruitment company in the cannabis industry. But “there are education gaps and labor gaps,” said John Frost, program chair and faculty member of the Denver Community College’s new cannabis business program. “The industry is evolving from the illegal market to legal medical use and legal recreational use. It is expanding rapidly.”

Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, but in the past few years, multiple states have legalized the drug, and colleges and universities in these states have been offering marijuana-focused degrees particularly quickly And certificate courses and courses.

For example, horticulture students at Noguetuck Valley Community College in Connecticut can now take After the country legalized recreational cannabis in July, a new cannabis production course was opened this fall.

Christopher J. Tuccio, professor of horticulture and project coordinator at the college, said in a press release that as “legislation across the country is changing,” future horticulturists will benefit from learning “hemp cultivation technology and science”.

Syracuse University College, which caters to part-time students, will cooperate with cannabis education company Green Flower, supply Four non-credit certificates in the fields of hemp law and policy, business, health and medicine, and agriculture and horticulture. New York will legalize marijuana possession at the end of Marchl.

The list is endless, but not everyone is celebrating the popularity of cannabis academic programs. The resistance of some faculty, administrators, alumni, donors, and state legislators to such programs may make them difficult to establish.

Lehmpuhl said it will take about two years to gain recognition from teachers, campus and university system leaders, and state officials. In the process of creating the CSU Pueblo program, faculty, staff and management “always” opposed and hesitated. Emails from relevant colleagues and community members expressed concern that plans with the word “marijuana” in the name would stigmatize the college or put federal funding at risk. Lehmpuhl held “a large number” of one-on-one meetings to explain the purpose of the plan.

“I have done a lot of work to encourage and persuade people that this is a completely legal degree,” Lehmpuhl said. He pointed out that the university has obtained a permit to grow hemp from the Colorado Department of Agriculture and has ensured that the program does not risk any loss of federal funds.

Fida Obeidi, director of the Denver Community College Health and Natural Sciences Center, said that the cannabis business plan has not met with opposition, partly because the supporters have done a lot of work in advance to prove local labor needs, including a research study industry and employer surveys.

Although community colleges are increasingly offering cannabis-related courses — not just individual courses or seminars — Frost said there is still no “large” list of institutions, partly because these fields are relatively new. , “New things are terrible.”

“There are challenges in regulation and the politics surrounding this industry that need to be overcome, and people’s different views on it play an important role in whether the authorities are willing to accept such a plan,” he said. Creating a cannabis-focused program requires “a perfect combination of acceptance management and countries that are satisfied with it, which of course varies greatly across the United States. Putting such a program into practice is a big improvement.”

Lehmpuhl emphasized in his information about the program that it is a “strict science degree” that requires courses similar to a double degree in biology and chemistry, and aims to provide students with a variety of career options, whether it’s a job in the cannabis industry or enrollment in Medical school.

“One thing we are trying to clarify is that we don’t support marijuana or marijuana in any way,” Lempool said. “What we are studying is science.”

Gonzalo Carrasco, associate professor of biomedical sciences at Rowan University’s Cooper School of Medicine, said the lack of cannabis research is a public safety issue. His work focuses on the possible negative effects of long-term use of cannabinoids among young people.

He is now conducting research for Rowan’s New Cannabis Research, Policy and Workforce Development Institute, the university Open In February 2021, New Jersey legalized marijuana. The institute has three centers, each of which focuses on one aspect of cannabis: the science behind the long-term effects of cannabis, the social impact of the national cannabis policy and its role in labor development.

Carrasco has been studying cannabinoids for 15 years. He believes that it is important for scientists to study the side effects of cannabinoids, just like any other medicine, so pharmacists can provide people with appropriate advice, and doctors know which tests to perform to ensure these medicines It is the best treatment plan for individual patients.

“There is a lack of understanding of the effects of these drugs,” he said.

He added that the institute’s interdisciplinary approach means that scientific research on cannabis can be “swiftly translated” into national policy recommendations and guidance for health practitioners and the public.

Lehmpuhl pointed out that leaders in the cannabis industry need workers with scientific knowledge and training.

He said that people in the Colorado cannabis industry “have experience in growing cannabis, using cannabis, and extracting things… but they don’t have a real scientific background.” “Some laboratories that are opening need workers who can determine the percentage of THC, if they use hemp or CBD, if they use hemp, pesticides or heavy metals. When we talk to people in emerging industries, we have This demand.”

(Note: Gonzalo Carrasco, Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Rowan University Cooper School of Medicine cited in this article is a Inside higher education Reporters who were not involved in reporting or writing this article. )

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