A generation ago, people made jokes about going away to college and majoring in pot.
But with nearly 30 states having legalized medical marijuana, it’s now a serious field of study at the University of Northern Michigan.
The university, which is in Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula, started its medical plant chemistry program this semester with about a dozen students, the Detroit Free Press reported this week.
“Many of the states are legalizing different substances and they’re really looking for quality people to do the chemistry and the science,” university trustee James Haveman told the paper. “And it’s the university’s responsibility to produce those kinds of students for those kinds of jobs.”
The program is far from a joke. It includes heavy doses of chemistry, botany, horticulture, biology and finance. “It’s not an easy degree at all,” sophomore Alex Roth told the Free Press.
Here’s an excerpt from the course description for the Capstone courses: “The lecture component of the course will provide an in-depth examination of the various classes of bioactive compounds and their plant origins, secondary metabolite chemistry, theories of extraction and sample preparation, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry theory and operation, and good laboratory practices.”
Northern Michigan may be the only American university offering a four-year degree in the science and business of cannabis production.
Chemistry professor Brandon Canfield told the paper students don’t grow marijuana plants but use other facsimile plants to learn how to measure and extract the compounds in plants that can be used for medicinal purposes.
Medical marijuana was legalized by voters in Michigan several years ago, but the system there has been bogged down in disputes. Applications for licenses to provide it are expected to be available late this year.