Although America is home to a wide variety of cannabis colleges, Northern Michigan University (NMU) is claiming to be the first college to offer a four-year undergraduate major in cannabis. Choosing cannabis a viable major is quickly becoming the new normal.
The new program is listed on the school’s website in the chemistry section. Brandon Canfield is associate chemistry professor at NMU and will teach the course. “I predict that the graduates from our program are going to have among the highest immediate job placement of any of our programs,” Canfield told CBS Detroit. “People are either going to go out and get jobs or they might go out and start their own business in the industry.” Chemists especially are in high demand in the cannabis industry.
Students will identify, isolate and synthesize biochemicals from plant material. No cannabis will be grown on campus, however students will go through extraction and analysis techniques using plant substitutes. “That process from one plant system to another is not too different,” Canfield added. “But we will be focusing on cannabis chemistry in our classes.” Terpenes, for instance, are found in many plants, especially conifers and evergreens. Smelly terpenes are cannabis’ natural defense against pests. In addition, hops and hackberry plants are also in the cannabaceae family and are genetically similar to cannabis.
The cannabis industry is in desperate need of educated chemists. Cannabis trade schools, accredited cannabis programs at college universities and cannabis testing programs have existed in schools in many states, but not to the extent of the training that will be offered at NMU. The interest is growing substantially. Cannabis Chemistry is now a recognized subdivision at the American Chemical Society.
The program is starting out small, but will probably grow in time. Canfield has 12 chemistry students enrolled for the program’s first run this fall semester.