• Elise Castelaz

Incorporating Cannabis into Higher Education

The topic of cannabis within higher education comes to question as a number of colleges and universities throughout the world design courses geared towards the legalities of cannabis businesses, the biology of the cannabis plant, and the psychological and physiological effects of consuming cannabis. Learning about these topics in a college setting can be extremely beneficial to the future of the industry, but controversies surrounding the legalities of this plant from state to state and country to country can cause incohesion. As higher education gets more expensive, students are becoming more interested in atypical science and business fields where there is profit to be made. With further research on cannabis being performed at high-profile colleges and universities, should more universities be designing business and science courses to accommodate this emerging market? Many schools say yes. and have already developed courses centered upon cannabis education.

Ohio State University offers a course about cannabis businesses, one titled “Cannabiz: Exploring the ‘Legalized’ Cannabis Industry”. Students can study the risks associated with entrepreneurialism in this market, learn about criminal law associated with the plant, and can further educate themselves on the legalities regarding cannabis businesses.

The University of Denver also offers a ‘Business of Cannabis’ course where students get an overview of the impacts of the cannabis industry through business disciplines like strategy, finance, marketing, and ethics of the industry.

The scientific side of cannabis education is equally as important as the business aspect, and some might say it has even more potential for growth. Northern Michigan University offers a 4-year degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry, where students can choose a concentration in cannabis, requiring courses in organic chemistry, plant physiology, genetics, accounting and financial management. NMU is the first university to offer a degree in this field.

University of California - Davis offers a course titled ‘The Physiology of Cannabis’ to raise awareness and understanding of the effects of cannabis on the body and mind. The course outlines the biology of the plant, the physiological effects on multiple systems in the body, and the underlying therapeutic values of cannabis.

Even schools outside of the US are offering courses in cultivation and production. In Canada, New Brunswick Community College offers a horticulture course tailored to give students the skills to work in cannabis cultivation, while Kwantlen Polytechnic University offers an online course regarding cannabis production, marketing and financing. The class at Kwantlen was so popular that the university had to offer the course every 4 weeks instead of the original 8 weeks it was scheduled.

With such high demand for education in this field and with more courses being introduced, there is a greater potential to bring highly educated individuals into the cannabis industry. Education has the potential to create further innovation within both the business and scientific face of cannabis, as well as continue to change the stigma of this plant.

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