MARQUETTE, Mich. (WWJ) – It’s the first college program of its kind in the country — training students for the medical marijuana industry — and it’s happening right here in Michigan.
Northern Michigan University in Marquette is the first college to offer an undergraduate major in medicinal plant chemistry, starting this fall.
“This area is just exploding. I mean, you see Washington, Colorado, Oregon, California with full legal recreational marijuana. You’ve got over half the states with medicinal legal, and with all of that has come a huge need for these trained analytical chemists,” associate chemistry professor Brandon Canfield told WWJ’s Beth Fisher. “In terms of a four-year regular undergraduate degree, there’s nothing else like this.”
Before students get the wrong idea about the program, Canfield said it won’t be all hands on with marijuana.
“We’re not going to be actually growing anything on campus. Maybe following the 2018 Michigan election, maybe we’ll revisit that depending on the outcome and what ballots are present on that election. But for now, we’re not going to be growing any cannabis. We’ll be practicing extraction and analysis techniques on other plant systems,” he said. “That process from one plant system to another is not too different. But we will be focusing on cannabis chemistry in our classes. We’ll also be looking at the separation and analysis of the cannabinoids and the various terpenes and things present in cannabis and other compounds present in other plants.”
Canfield says the school decided to start the major because of the booming medical marijuana industry.
“The need for this is so great. You go to some of these cannabis industry conferences and everyone is talking about how they need labs, they need labs,” he said. “Or the bigger operations are trying to set up their own labs in house