Written By: Rita Thompson
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, cannabis sales have reached more than than $6.56 billion between 2014-2019. Seeing the rapid emergence and growth of the cannabis industry, colleges across the country are hopping on the pineapple express.
The University of Maryland and University of Northern Michigan already have cannabis programs in place. Colorado State University, Pueblo is following in their footsteps. Starting in this fall, CSU Pueblo will offer a Bachelors of Science in Cannabis Biology and Chemistry.
Preparing Students to Work in an Emerging Industry
The program will consist mainly of chemistry and biology coursework, and therefore fall under the school’s chemistry department. Students pursing the degree will be able to choose from two tracks: natural products, or analytics.
The natural products route will focus on biology, aligning itself with additional courses in neurobiology, biochemistry and genetics. The analytical track, on the other hand, will focus on the plant’s chemical compounds, and product development.
David Lehmpuhl, dean of CSU Pueblo’s College of Science and Mathematics, said that regardless of the school’s stance on cannabis, it’s important that students have the opportunity to be apart of the emerging industry.
Cultivating Career Opportunities Beyond the Cannabis Industry
“It’s a rigorous degree geared toward the increasing demand coming about because of the cannabis industry,” Lehmpuhl told The Denver Post. “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.”
Graduates will be prepare for careers in the cannabis industry and in government. Their experience will also make them competitive in industry’s outside of cannabis, such as: agriculture, food science, biochemistry and environmental sciences.
“We are developing our students to work in the industry, which is a real and essential part of what’s around Pueblo and Southern Colorado,” Lehmphul expressed to Coloradoan.
In the meantime, the Colorado Department of Higher Education believes the program will inspire other Colorado colleges to instate cannabis-focused degrees as well.