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The Rise of Cannabis Courses in the US

With the full legalisation of hemp across all 50 U.S states in 2018, making the product a regular agricultural commodity as opposed to a schedule 1 controlled substance, the hemp and CBD industry in the United States is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. With this rapid growth comes decreased stigmatisation of cannabis; which is currently being reflected in the growing number of professional cannabis courses and degrees being offered at prestigious U.S universities.

A variety of courses have sprung up in recent months, with Northern Michigan University offering up a 4 year undergraduate degree in ‘Medicinal Plant Chemistry’ it says is necessary to keep up with the ‘great demand for qualified technical personnel and … skilled entrepreneur[s] in the cannabis, herbal extract, and natural product industries’. Another university offering up cannabis based education to keep up with demand in this area is Doane University, where the ‘DoaneX Cannabis Science and Industries: Seeds to Needs Professional Certificate Program’ has been created by both academics and specialists from the cannabis industry to give students comprehensive knowledge on the ever-growing cannabis industry.

Doane’s ‘Seeds to Needs’ programme highlights a key feature of many of these courses: funding and collaboration with hemp and CBD companies. While Doane’s course is endorsed by both Colorado’s Precision Plant Molecules, a hemp refinement and extraction company, and AgriScience Laboratories, a cannabis testing facility, other new courses across the country are structured in a similar way as it is hoped that while the established companies provide insight into the industry as it stands, the students will go on to provide insight into the cannabis plant which will be equally beneficial for the companies in the developing cannabis landscape.

Another benefit of these emerging courses is that with prestigious academic universities acknowledging the legitimacy of both the cannabis plant’s uses and the cannabis industry’s importance, many hope the existing stigma around cannabis and its use will gradually decrease and further cannabis reform can be achieved in the country and elsewhere in the world. Additionally, the courses will equip the students studying them with vital information on this growing cannabis sector that is currently lacking in experts across legal, business and tech fields.

Meanwhile other courses in the country include ‘Cannabis Journalism’ at the University of Denver and a ‘Cannabis Law’ course at Stockton University in New Jersey amongst others. With these courses appearing across the country with cannabis reform seemingly set to continue, it will be interesting to see how cannabis education develops in the years to come as the industry goes from strength to strength.

While the focus in the UK remains very much on the issue of medicalisation, there is a growing consensus that decriminalisation, if not full legalisation, is a short to medium term likelihood. In that scenario, the range of increasingly common educational offerings in the US that focus on more commercial concerns like cultivation, processing and cannabis business could well become a viable and lucrative form of higher education here.

A particularly interesting view is that former criminal operators should be invited across the aisle into the new, legitimate space, bringing with them an existing degree of knowledge that would no longer help fuel the long-established illicit market.

For more in depth information on different regulations in various countries and more information on cannabis and medical cannabis generally, we recommend accessing our in-depth modules. For more information on medical cannabis generally, go to our online coursesevidence base and whitepapers.

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