Northern Michigan University made the news earlier this week for its most recent addition to it’s curriculum: Marijuana Studies. Every stoner’s dream, right? Don’t be so sure, the new program is said to be anything but easy (not that stoner’s can’t be good at school too, of course).
The program itself is actually a Bachelor of Science in Medicinal Plant Chemistry and is described by their faculty as a “intense biology chemistry program” in which students will learn about topics like organic chemistry, plant physiology, accounting, genetics, physical geography and financial management.
With marijuana becoming an increasingly hot topic, it’s no surprise that such a degree has come into existence. Many classes already exist on the substance, like University of Denver’s The Business of Marijuana or University of California at Davis‘ The Physiology of Cannabis, for example. Contrary to these courses, U of Northern Michigan’s degree program is the first to offer a complete degree on the subject.
Some may ask, why a degree in marijuana studies? Here are a few reasons backing Northern Michigan’s bold move:
- New research. As legalization in the United States continues to expand (as of now, 29 states have legalized medicinal cannabis use; 8 of these have also legalized recreational use) there is an increased need to treat cannabis like any other therapeutic drug and conduct the peer reviewed research to better understand it’s properties and potential medicinal uses.
- A growing market. The marijuana industry is a blooming business right now (pun intended). As legalization increases, so does the need for legitimate business practices and facilities. This program prepares students for professional work in research, therapy, dispensaries, plant growth, and of course, business management; all of which will soon be in high demand.
- Legitimacy. Let’s be real, cannabis isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s medicinal properties are slowly making their way into the medical handbooks and it’s recreational use is pushing governing bodies to re-evaluate their policies. The next step is to remove the taboo around the substance and create a next generation of legitimate researchers, educators and entrepreneurs.
U of Northern Michigan reports having received an overall positive response to their new marijuana studies program: eliciting interest from students, researchers and even retirees looking to expand their horizons. They have also received a positive response from the existing cannabis industry, with dispensaries and growing operations opening their doors for student internships.
This first-of-its-kind program will lead the way in medicinal plant chemistry education, many believe it is only a matter of time until other educational institutions in the US begin following in their footsteps.
Written by Julia Stamp