Nation & World

Now you can add a marijuana degree to your higher education

Medicinal marijuana plants
Medicinal marijuana plants File photo

For perhaps the first time, students at a U.S. university can get a marijuana degree.

Though there is already a Cannabis College and a number of programs around the country dealing with marijuana law and policy, Northern Michigan University may have implemented the very first four-year degree addressing the science and business behind growing weed, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The program began this semester and includes classes such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, soils, biostatistics, accounting and financial management, the Free Press reported.

In December, the state will begin to issue new licenses for the growing, testing, transportation and sale of medical marijuana, expanding availability.

The state has yet to adopt “full legalization,” meaning recreational use will continue to be illegal.

The Free Press called the new NMU marijuana program “unique” and wrote that the first class has 12 students enrolled.

To get around actually growing marijuana in the classroom, chemistry professor Brandon Canfield told the Free Press students will instead work with other medicinal plants, such as mint and ginseng root.

“The students will learn how to measure and extract the compounds in the plants that can be used for medicinal purposes and then be able to transfer that knowledge to marijuana,” the Free Press wrote.

The marijuana industry is expanding as more and more states adopt various legalization rules. Forbes reported that sales grew by 30 percent in 2016 — to $6.7 billion. Forbes called it “unprecedented” growth.

A student at NMU enrolled in the marijuana program, Alex Roth, said he wants to help combat the stigma attached to marijuana use.

“Alcohol is such a big part of our culture now, and I want to be a part of the change to normalize marijuana,” he told the Free Press. “And I look at how much the industry is going to be worth, and I think this is one of the smartest decisions I could make for my future.”

Results from the 2016 election brought about new rules on the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana in several states, with more than half now allowing for the latter. Federal government leaders including president-elect Trump have voiced th

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg