Colorado was one of the first two states in the US, together with Washington, to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. Now, starting from fall this year, students at Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus will be able to major in Cannabis Sciences.
Approved by state officials, the school will offer a bachelor of science degree in cannabis biology and chemistry. The program will include elements covering the genetics of cannabis and other plants alongside courses in neurobiology, biochemistry and genetics. It will also include courses in analytical chemistry, such as defining ideal cannabidiol (CBD) concentrations of certain products.
David Lehmpuhl, dean of Colorado State University’s Pueblo College of Science and Mathematics said, “It’s a rigorous degree geared toward the increasing demand coming about because of the cannabis industry...Hemp and marijuana has really come to the forefront in a lot of economic sectors in the country. We're not pro-cannabis or anti-cannabis. What we're about will be the science, and training students to look at that science.”
In Colorado alone, the state’s Department of Revenue said that its marijuana-related revenue streams since 2014 surpassed $1 billion by June 2019, with revenues from marijuaa tax, licensing and fee revenue totalling $1.02 billion. Meanwhile, marijuana sales alone in the state by then had generated $6.56 billion in revenue.
An increasingly profitable industry, administration staff at the university expect a high volume of applicants for the degree. Yet, financial motivations are not the only driving factor behind the course. With the surge of vaping among teens spurring public health concern, Lehmpuhl said, “One of the things that motivated us to develop this program was this industry sort of developed without oversight and regulation...I think now it’s becoming clear when you look at even the recent vaping crisis that occurred that there’s a need for having trained scientists in that space.”
Although novel in the global context of university course offerings, Colorado State University’s course in Cannabis biology and chemistry is not the first of its kind. Northern Michigan University in Marquette for example, also offer a four0year medicinal plant chemistry degree, while the University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy offers a master’s degree in medical cannabis science and therapeutics.