Add Northern Michigan University in Marquette to the growing number of higher learning institutions focusing on cannabis education. The school recently announced that this fall it will offer an undergraduate program in medicinal plant chemistry.
It will effectively give students a major in medicinal marijuana and train them to enter the expanding industry. The school hopes it will become a major pipeline for students interested in learning about makeup and medical efficacy of the marijuana plant.
“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,” NMU associate chemistry professor Brandon Cangiel told CBS Detroit. “Or the bigger operations are trying to set up their own labs in house and they need trained analysts. And the skill set required to perform these analysis is perfectly matched with an undergraduate level education.”
Initially, students won’t have their hands on the plants. Though maybe the school will revisit the decision following the 2018 Michigan Election, crops of the plant will not be grown on the campus. Instead students will practice extraction and analysis techniques via other plants systems. In addition professors will educate on the chemical compounds of marijuana, and how to separate cannabinoids and the various terpenes present in cannabis.
Dr. Mark Paulsen, head of NMU’s chemistry department, told WXYZ ABC7 that he believes program graduates “will be in very high demand,” based on dialogues he’s had at industry conferences.
Currently 12 students are enrolled in the program for the fall semester, but Paulsen “expect[s] that the incoming class next fall will double or triple in size.”
“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, echoing his boss’ sentiments. “People are either going to go out and get jobs or they might go out and start their own business in the industry.”