Northern Michigan University Offers First Four-Year Degree in Marijuana

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A blackboard with a chalk and the shape of the cannabis symbol drawn onto. (series)

There’s no doubt that pursuing an education in cannabis is all over the map. There’s only a few colleges that offer cannabis course, and the University of Maryland recently cancelled cannabis cultivation classes. Northern Michigan University (NMU) just joined other colleges in who support the future of marijuana. This Marquette, Michigan university is now offering a four-year degree in marijuana. And it’s one that goes way beyond classes that are simply about cannabis cultivation.

NMU Just Made History by Offering the First Four-Year Degree in Marijuana

The program was created due to the “great demand for qualified technical entrepreneur in the cannabis, herbal extract, and natural product industries.” While there are other colleges that offer a variety of cannabis classes, NMU has created a program that isn’t found anywhere else.

A dozen students attended the first class, a number that is expected to grow in the next year. Dr. Mark Paulsen, director of NMU chemistry department, says that the program is “gaining students every week.”

What Students Will Study in NMU Cannabis Classes to Earn a Degree in Marijuana

Classes are a mix of biology, botany, chemistry, and horticulture. Add in marketing and finances courses, and you’ve got a four-year program that will offer the growing marijuana industry qualified individuals who know what they’re doing. Students will learn the chemistry and science behind medical marijuana, and be taught how to measure and extract compounds of medicinal plants.

They won’t however, be actually growing cannabis plants. Brandon Canfield is associate chemistry professor who came up with the idea of the program. “No one is growing marijuana,” he says. “No one is violating state or federal laws.”

He does note that there are several other plants that can be studied. “I work with plants right now that could be considered medical plants,” Canfield says. “We look to other plants that have been traditionally recognized with medicinal value, but are not illegal to grow.”

Students enrolled in classes will learn how to measure and extract compounds from these medicinal plants. They will then transfer that knowledge to cannabis. Students enrolled in classes look forward to being part of the change that normalizes marijuana. They understand the industry is growing rapidly and that getting a degree in cannabis is likely a very wise decision for their future.

NMU Understands the Need for Experts in the Marijuana Industry

Medical marijuana sales in Michigan presently hover right around $700 million. The push to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan is strong however. National sales of medical and recreational cannabis hit $6.8 billion in 2016. Marijuana industry professionals believe this will grow to over $20 billion by 2021.

With recreational and legalization of marijuana blazing through states across the country, there is undoubtedly going to be a growing need for educated experts in cannabis. NMU understands this. They are actively recruiting students for the program, as well as talking to businesses interested in hiring students as interns and employees after graduation.

Canfield notes stereotypical stoners need not apply. “The program is new and different. And it might speak to a certain crowd. But for a student to succeed, they will need to be very dedicated and motivated.”

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