A few years ago, when Michigan was considering legalizing cannabis, officials at Northern Michigan University asked faculty to come up with “futuristic leading-edge academic majors.” The result: Students from around the country can now enroll in a cannabis-centric medicinal chemistry program, which has grown to 230 students in just two years. The program provides a background in botany and analytical chemistry, then students choose an entrepreneurial or bioanalytical track. Graduates are expected, in part, to staff testing labs as part of the state’s newly legal cannabis market.
Legal cannabis added over 64,000 jobs last year — more than any other industry in the United States. In fact, by 2020, cannabis will have a job creation rate of 110%, according to Leafly.com. Who’s filling all these jobs? More and more, it’s graduates of programs like the one at NMU that are cropping up at colleges across the country.
New Jersey’s Stockton University, for example, launched a minor in cannabis studies this year. The program includes five courses, with a mandatory internship and classes on medicinal cannabis and cannabis law. Last fall, the University of California, Davis debuted a graduate- level course, “Cannabis sativa: The Plant and its Impact on People.” The plant sciences class examines the health effects, risks and medical benefits of cannabis.
Montreal’s McGill University is developing a degree in cannabis, which it will unveil next year. The Canadian program will prepare graduates to work at the master grower or management level of the industry. Students will learn about cannabis genetics and the legalities of the industry, along with how to optimize growing conditions for the plant. Canada, in general, has committed to cannabis education. Canadian schools have at least 11 post-secondary cannabis programs, more than six colleges offering cannabis cultivation degrees and several universities with courses in cannabis business and law.
But it’s not just colleges jumping into the field. The American Cannabis Nurses Association now offers continuing education credits to nurses through its online cannabis curriculum. Topics in the 12-part series, complete with quizzes and lectures, include the endocannabinoid system, dosing, medical risks and legal implications.