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Written by Sheena Beronio

A Colorado-based university, upon approval from the State, offers a cannabis degree that focuses on the science and manufacturing aspect of cannabis. The cannabis-related degree is said to be a ‘rigorous’ program that could be likened to a double major in biology and chemistry. 

The cannabis-related degree was officially named “the Cannabis, Biology and Chemistry program.” It’ll be taught at Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus. This four-year program is vaguely similar to the bachelor’s degrees in Medicinal Plant Chemistry offered at Northern Michigan University and Minot State University.

The program is expected to provide science-backed knowledge on the cultivation and manufacturing of cannabis with an emphasis on “natural products.” The raw materials to be studied on would come from labs licensed to cultivate industrial hemp.

The new program’s curriculum will be split between natural products and analytical chemistry. The curriculums related to natural products would delve into cannabis’ genetics while in analytical chemistry, the student would deal with the chemical compounds of cannabis.

Students aren’t expected to work with materials high on THC content

The students who will be enrolling in the new program are expected to work on CBD or cannabidiol (a compound in the Cannabis Sativa plant) but not in materials with high THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, although THC would be brushed.

THC is a cannabinoid found in marijuana. Marijuana is a variety of cannabis that has psychoactive properties, meaning, THC could get a person high. THC endured bad rap last year. It was discovered that most of the fluid extracted from people ill with a mystery disease from e-cigarettes, was found to be THC. Medical practitioners believe that THC acted like grease in the lungs, damaging the lung’s sacs.

College of Science and Mathematics dean David Lehmpuhl explained in an interview to Denver Post that this new program is all the more necessary to curb these incidents by equipping future cannabis practitioners with thorough knowledge of the plant.

‘One of the things that motivated us to develop this program was this industry is sort of developed without oversight and regulation,’ Lehmpuhl said. ‘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.’ 

The program is in response to the increasing demand of the cannabis industry in State Colorado

Lehmpuhl further explained that the new program was brought about by the increasing demand for the cannabis industry in the State and the country.

‘It’s a rigorous degree geared toward the increasing demand coming about because of the cannabis industry. Hemp and marijuana have really come to the forefront in a lot of economic sectors in the country,’ quipped Lehmpuhl.

Lehmpuhl was aptly right to put it that way because Colorado, as of today, is one of America’s leading states on recreational marijuana. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 with a provision for private use on citizens aged 21 years old and over.

In a wrap up last year, the State received more than $1.2billion from the Colorado cannabis sale of $7.6billion. The striking  $1.2billion was from the taxes, licenses, and fees collected from the Colorado cannabis industry.

The Colorado cannabis industry is booming as ever with its latest installation of at least 2,917 licensed weed businesses, and 41,076 individuals, working within the industry. 

Lehmpuhl further pointed out that when genetics technology marries cannabis cultivation, the cannabis industry will profit even more. ‘A lot of the products that people are selling from the cannabis plant, if they can be genetically produced, become more profitable,’ Lehmpuhl said.

Before the launching of the Cannabis, Biology, and Chemistry program, Colorado State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences are already offering an undergraduate minor in Cannabis Studies. The undergraduate minor though is rather heavy on social, legal, historical, political, and health-related impact of cannabis on society. It’s a minor perfect for people who want to delve into social work, public health, and the law.