A cannabis studies degree sounds like a Cheech & Chong punchline from the 1980s, but is a real deal in 2019 Michigan.
Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, a public campus with about 3,000 students, announced a specialized chemistry program in January and adds a cannabis business curriculum in four months.
The first discipline focuses on general chemistry, toxicology, organic chemistry and a new cannabis chemistry course. Business majors can study cannabis economics, cannabis entrepreneurship, and cannabis law and policy.
"The university is working to change the perception that it's not a rigorous program or that it may be a stoner program," Zaria Phillips, a Michigan State student, writes at Great Lakes Echo, a news site produced by MSU's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.
"We ran a special topics chemistry course last spring and we got about 40-plus students to enroll despite the steep science prerequisite course requirement, including organic chemistry,” said David Myton, the associate provost and interim dean of the college of science and the environment. . . .
"We're interested in helping students prepare for the analytical side of cannabis — the testing side. . . . We focus on regulation, enforcement, public health and safety."
Growers have to send their products to labs to be tested before they can be sold, and this program will prepare students for jobs working in those labs, he said.
On the business track, the associate provost says about 20 undergraduates are pre-enrolled for the fall semester's new marijuana program at the College of Innovation and Solutions.
Phillips, the East Lansing student journalist, also speaks with Kimberly Muller, that college's dean:
“This is an industry that will grow about 28 percent within the next 10 years and we want to prepare our students."
Lake Superior is the second Upper Peninsula university with pot industry classes. Northern Michigan University, a larger campus in Marquette, began medicinal cannabis studies as a degree program in 2017.
-- Alan Stamm