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'Hemp and marijuana has really come to the forefront in a lot of economic sectors in the country'
Colorado State University is launching a cannabis degree program aimed at meeting the demand for experts as legalized cannabis becomes more commonplace across the United States, according to the Associated Press.
The new Cannabis, Biology and Chemistry program at CSU will be similar to a double-major in biology and chemistry, with some specific emphases on analyzing cannabis.
"It's a rigorous degree geared toward the increasing demand coming about because of the cannabis industry," College of Science and Mathematics dean David Lehmpuhl told the AP. "Hemp and marijuana has really come to the forefront in a lot of economic sectors in the country. We're not pro-cannabis or anti-cannabis. What we're about will be the science, and training students to look at that science."
The natural products coursework would place students in a lab setting to learn about the genetics of cannabis or other plants with additional courses in neurobiology, biochemistry and genetics, university officials said.
The analytical chemistry coursework would also place students in a lab setting to learn about the chemical compounds, such as determining what kind of cannabidiol concentration should exist in a product, university officials said.
Marijuana is fully legal — both recreationally and medicinally — in 11 states. It is fully illegal in just eight states, with all other states carrying mixed legal status allowing for varying levels of medicinal use, and some having decriminalized the substance to different degrees.
Colorado legalized marijuana in 2014, and has since generated more than $1 billion in revenue from the industry.
When marijuana is legalized to any degree in a state, there comes a rush of would-be entrepreneurs seeking licenses to open dispensaries, as well as a need for pharmacies and qualified pharmacists to run them. Also, experts are needed to handle research and production of legal marijuana that meets whatever state guidelines apply.
The university had previously established the Institute of Cannabis Research in 2016 at its Pueblo campus, where the new cannabis degree program will be. The campus had a minor program in cannabis studies.
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