David Lehmpuhl is the dean of science and mathematics at Colorado State University Pueblo. In his own words below, lightly edited for length and clarity, Prof. Lehmpuhl explains what led to the new cannabis degree program, what type of students should consider applying and what the future holds for formal cannabis education.
We have an Institute of Cannabis Research that is a state-funded entity that is actually housed on campus. That started about four years ago and is funded by the state and the director, who is actually a chemist, has been in contact with me frequently.
He had been getting weekly requests about the pedagogy he had, what kind of curriculum or training for people in the cannabis industry that was available.
That made me get the department chairs for chemistry and biology together and we tried to come up with a program that students could take that would be efficable to the cannabis industry, but not limited to the cannabis industry.
Forensic science is an applied degree. It takes chemistry and biology principles and applies them to solving crimes. The cannabis degree is an applied degree that takes chemistry and biology principles and applies them to cannabis.
In other words, if a student in that program wanted to work in a chemistry lab or a biology lab or if they wanted to go to grad school or medical school or work for the DowDuPoints of the world, with this program, they would have the background
to be able to do that even though it’s got cannabis in the name.
A lot of people who are currently in the cannabis industry have real world experience but not very much theoretical education and background, so there hasn’t been a lot of research done in the cannabis space. There has been some, but
it has been difficult to do.
The need for research and to know what is going on as the regulations improve and increase, I think there will be an increasing need for people with a scientific background to be able to go into the cannabis industry and say definitely this
product has no pesticides or this product needs to go through heavy metal remediation and so on.
A lot of the upper division courses that the students take have a cannabis-specific focus, I kind of liken it to the forensic science realm.
“The need for research and to know what is going on as the regulations improve and increase, I think there will be an increasing need for people with a scientific background to be able to go into the cannabis industry.”
In that sense, it is giving students a leg up in an industry that is growing.
I think there will be a lot of these programs starting to open up across the country. I already know of two others within the state of Colorado alone. One is a business degree and the other is also in science. I think you’ll find
that occurring across the country.
Here are some options to consider:
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