Colorado University Offers New Major in Cannabis

The U.S.’s first bachelor’s degree in cannabis was announced at Colorado State University-Pueblo. The new major is geared towards educating students in the needs of the thriving cannabis industry. CSU-Pueblo has had a 22-credit cannabis Studies Minor since 2016.

According to a report released by CSU-Pueblo, students will take classes such as “Cannabis Physiology and Growth” and “Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology.” The major offers two possible tracks: a biology track dealing with natural products or an analytical track, more focused on chemistry.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a report, “This industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction.”

According to CSU-Pueblo, the major was created due to a need for cannabis-trained scientists. Some of the skills cannabis majors will leave with include familiarity with local, state and federal policies and knowledge of the ramifications of cannabis on people and society as a whole.

Korey Winter, freshman kinesiology major, calls Colorado home and lives about an hour north of CSU-Pueblo.

“There are only two classes that seem to give students background in cannabis. Is that enough for students to get a degree in it?” Winter asked. Winter hopes that the university is committed to research and does not actively encourage recreational use of the drug. “I would hope that the more we know about cannabis, the less likely it is to be legalized,” she said. “I’ve watched it change my state, and I don’t see many benefits to recreational use, but more knowledge about its effects would be beneficial.”

Joel Funk, a biology professor at JBU, hoped that the major would provide valuable insight into the federally restricted drug. “The cannabis major is just another potential research direction. Science will always research where there is money and scientists will go in any direction that they think is productive,” he said.

Funk explained how little is known about the drug, but that “it does have detrimental effects [that] have been documented.” Funk hopes that the research will guide discussions about the medical benefits of marijuana. “I am not exactly sure what a prescription looks like for cannabis, but rather than being unregulated, you should have to get a prescription,” Funk said.

“I would not feel prepared with only those two classes. For a chemistry major, you are required to take eight or nine specific chemistry courses, and so, if I only took two specific cannabis classes, I wouldn’t feel prepared for the industry,” Chandler Stewart, a junior chemistry major at JBU, said. “There may be concerns about it being a party major, but, if it’s a chemistry and biology pathway, right-intentioned people might be able to make through.”

Recognizing that marijuana is a controversial topic, CSU-Pueblo has ensured the public that the major will provide a focus on ethical uses of marijuana. “This major endorses our commitment to our role as a regional comprehensive university dedicated to providing leadership in civic responsibility through excellence in teaching and research,” a statement released by CSU-Pueblo said.

Photo courtesy of Kimzy Nanney