University students interested in learning more about the cannabis industry and potentially carving out a career in the industry will soon have the opportunity to do so with two new programs being offered through Western Illinois University and Colorado State University.
The art of growing cannabis will become a minor subject at Western Illinois University in the fall, school officials announced Monday.
The university’s school of agriculture in Macomb is acting on interest officials expressed in such a class before adult-use marijuana became legal in January. The minor in cannabis production will require 18 to 19 credit hours with additional coursework offered by Western Illinois’ department of biological sciences.
School of agriculture director Andy Baker says faculty members are still working on partnerships with hemp producers and those in the recreational and medical marijuana businesses.
“There’s certainly enough hemp producers in the state that (students) could get experience working in the field,” Baker said. “There’s going to be some opportunities and we’re still developing those relationships.”
Bakers says he anticipating class sizes of 20 to 30 students, adding that in addition to graduating marijuana growers, there is a new bureau for cannabis regulation in the Illinois Department of Agriculture. That means there are going to be new employment opportunities in the state.
Recreational marijuana sales in Illinois totaled nearly $40 million in the first month, according to state officials.
The Cannabis, Biology, and Chemistry program would focus on the science necessary to work in the cannabis field and emphasize natural products and analytical chemistry, officials said.
“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 said. “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.”
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