When Alex Roth’s mother sent him an article announcing a new degree program being offered at Northern Michigan University, the sophomore immediately switched his major. Roth is now majoring in cannabis.
The program, Medicinal Plant Chemistry, is the first program to offer a 4-year undergraduate degree focusing on marijuana, according to Brandon Canfield, the associate professor of chemistry who started the program.
“When my friends hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who laugh and say, ‘wow. Cool dude. You’re going to get a degree growing marijuana,” Roth told The Washington Post. “But it’s not an easy degree at all.”
The former environmental studies major won’t be getting high in class or growing his own plants. Instead, his required courses include tough subjects such as organic chemistry, plant physiology, botany, accounting, genetics, physical geography and financial management.
Twenty-nine states, including Michigan, have legalized medical marijuana. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.Forbes projects the sale of recreational marijuana to jump to $11.2 billion by 2020. “I want to be on the forefront of this industry and be a part of the normalization of marijuana,” Roth said.
Several accredited colleges and universities offer credit and noncredit courses in marijuana. The University of California at Davis has an undergraduate course on the Physiology of Cannabis, the University of Denver offers a course on the Business of Marijuana and Vanderbilt’s law school has Marijuana Law and Policy course. Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, calls itself America’s first cannabis college, but offers a certificate rather than a college diploma, according to its website.