Michigan has a dynamic cannabis scene. On the one hand, state officials recently threatened to close down a bunch of dispensaries. But on the other hand, Northern Michigan University (NMU) is helping propel legal cannabis forward by offering students a new major: medicinal plant chemistry. In case it wasn’t immediately apparent, that’s another way of saying that students can now major in weed.
NMU’s New Cannabis Program
A small college in Marquette, Michigan, NMU created the program in response to the growing demand for trained analytical chemists in the burgeoning cannabis industry.
According to CBS Detroit, this is the first degree of its kind at a four-year undergraduate college. NMU hopes to become a major pipeline for the legal weed industry, which now employs between 165,000 and 230,000 Americans and is expected to reach to 300,000 by 2020.
“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,” said NMU Associate Chemistry Professor Brandon Canfield. “I predict that the graduates from our program are going to have among the highest immediate job placement of any of our programs.”
Canfield also said he expects to see students be especially successful among bigger grow operations that want to set up their own in-house labs. These companies, Canfield said, will need trained analysts.
Growing Interest in Medical Cannabis
Mark Paulsen, head of NMU’s chemistry department, said the inspiration for the program came from growing interest in medicinal plants as a supplement or alternative to other medical treatments.
“We have met any number of small or medium-sized business people who are making a wide variety of medicinal products,” Paulsen told WXYZ ABC 7. “In addition, the growing acceptance of medical cannabis and, in some states, completely