A university in Michigan is offering an unusual degree - in marijuana.
Northern Michigan University in Marquette began its medical plant chemistry programme this semester, with about a dozen students in the first class, the Detroit Free Press reported. The programme combines chemistry, biology, botany, horticulture, marketing and finance.
It’s an unusual programme. Other universities offer classes on marijuana policy and law. And places such as Oaksterdam University, Cannabis College, and Humboldt Cannabis College, all in California; and THC University, the Grow School and Clover Leaf University in Denver offer certificates in a variety of disciplines. But Northern Michigan’s programme is unique because the university is offering a four-year degree addressing the science and business behind growing marijuana.
“When they hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who say, ’Wow, cool dude. You’re going to get a degree growing marijuana,’” said Alex Roth, a sophomore in the programme. “But it’s not an easy degree at all.”
Brandon Canfield, an associate chemistry professor at Northern Michigan, said students don’t grow marijuana plants in the programme, but instead look to other plants that are traditionally recognised with medicinal value but aren’t illegal to grow.
Students learn how to measure and extract the compounds in the plants that can be used for medicinal purposes, then transfer that knowledge to marijuana, which has been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including chronic pain, nausea, seizures and glaucoma.
University officials say the programme fills a need because 29 states have legalised medical marijuana, including eight states where marijuana is also legal for recreational use.
In Michigan, voters in 2008 approved the use of marijuana to treat certain illnesses, but the law has confused many and has led to significant legal disputes, including over how to obtain and store the drug.