In a nationwide first, Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, inaugurated an exclusive cannabis research center for training on February 21.
The university is also launching two degrees specifically for the cannabis market – Cannabis Chemistry and Cannabis Business. Students can acquire an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the Chemistry program and a bachelor’s degree in the Business Program.
The 2,600 square foot center at the Crawford Hall of Science will serve as a study lab for coursework of the students of these courses.
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In a flourishing market without many trained experts, the university aims to provide “job-ready chemists, with hands-on, innovative experience using state-of-the-art instrumentation and industry protocols”, according to a press release issued.
The courses will help students become qualified in the science as well as entrepreneurial aspects of the cannabis industry.
Dr. Steve Johnson, Dean of the College of Science and the Environment, said, “The LSSU Cannabis Center of Excellence was created to provide a platform for our students to be at the forefront of the cannabis analytics industry.”
The University has partnered with Agilent Technologies for $2 million worth of equipment for the new center which, according to Dr. Johnson, “is rarely paralleled at other undergraduate institutions.”
While the Cannabis Chemistry major will train scholars qualified to work in safety labs, quality control centers and other research-oriented job profiles in the industry, the Business program will train undergraduates to become managers, supervisors, and business development leaders with specific knowledge of the cannabis industry.
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The Chemistry program will allow students to study hemp as well as marijuana from their first year itself. According to the university, the average starting salary for a cannabis chemist is $72,000, and the industry is expected to create 500,000 jobs by 2022.
The Business course will go into the depths of local, state and federal laws governing the cannabis industry to help students find ways to overcome the unique challenges faced by the industry due to its illegal status at the federal level.
Michigan voters legalized medicinal use of marijuana in 2008 and recreational use was approved in 2018. Marijuana remains illegal as per the federal government, as it’s still a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
The university needs approval from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as well as from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to grow or obtain marijuana for research purposes.
LSSU President Rodney Hanley said that the university is complying with all federal laws. He also remarked earlier, “In terms of cannabis, you almost have a market that’s been parachuting into various states and there’s no education in how to work within that marketplace. There’s a tremendous opportunity to focus on the business side of cannabis.”
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The study of cannabis is growing in popularity and several universities across the country are beginning to offer students with the opportunity to explore this industry.
University of California, Cornell University, and Harvard Law School also offer various courses related to cannabis.