Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus will offer a bachelor’s of science degree in cannabis, biology and chemistry this fall, the Colorado Department of Higher Education announced last week.
“It’s a rigorous degree geared toward the increasing demand coming about because of the cannabis industry,” David Lehmpuhl, dean of CSU-Pueblo’s College of Science and Mathematics, 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,” Lehmpuhl said.
According to The Denver Post, the new program has two tracks students can take: one is focused on biology and the genetics of cannabis, while the other looks at the chemistry of cannabis.
ehmpuhl said that a major incentive for the university to develop this program is the fact that there’s a need for trained scientists in the cannabis industry. As more states legalize mariujuana, officials emphasize the importance of research to better understand the drug, its possible uses, and how to properly regulate it. Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2014.
But scientific research on cannabis has been stifled because mariuana is still considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government. The only federal government contractor that grows the drug for federally funded research is located at the University of Mississippi, but scientists complain that the cannabis quality is not adequate for testing.
Students in CSU-Pueblo’s program will be working with industrial hemp, which the school is licensed to grow, and CBD, but they won’t work with products that contain high levels of THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to The Denver Post.
Numerous governors discussed the topic of marijuana legalization over the past few days while visiting Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association’s annual winter meeting. At Politico’s State Solutions Conference on Friday, governors stressed the importance of the federal government legalizing cannabis and allowing research on the drug.
CSU-Pueblo is one of a handful of universities that offer a degree related to mariuana. The University of Maryland—Baltimore’s School of Pharmacy became the first in the nation in fall 2019 to offer a Master of Science related to medical cannabis.