Northern Michigan University's marijuana degree combines business and science
Remember Adrian Sedlin, a graduate of Harvard Business School and the founder and CEO of a cannabis company Canndescent which grows and sells weed. Sedlin wanted to make pot sophisticated. "Call us the Courvoisier of cannabis or Hermès of cannabis. We're going after that high-end adult use," he told Marcus Lemonis on CNBC's special episode of ‘The Profit.’ Canndescent has generated jobs for more than 200 people in the little town of Desert Hot Springs in California. But even as Sedlin and other marijuana entrepreneurs bring money and jobs to their local community, they still have to push against entrenched stereotypes.
Months later, Northern Michigan University is offering students the chance to major in a new program called medicinal plant chemistry, which is basically marijuana analysis. The school created the program in response to the fact that marijuana business is about to explode in Michigan next year. The students will learn how to measure and extract the compounds in the plants that can be used in either the medical or recreational marijuana industry.
“We’re not going to be actually growing anything on campus,” said Brandon Canfield, an associate chemistry professor at Northern Michigan University, to CBS Detroit. “Maybe following the 2018 Michigan election, maybe we’ll revisit that depending on the outcome and what ballots are present in that election. But for now, we’re not going to be growing any cannabis. We’ll be practicing extraction and analysis techniques in other plant systems.”
Colleges and universities like Harvard, University of Denver, Vanderbilt University and Ohio State University already offers a variety of classes on marijuana policy and law. Besides this, there are programs that offer marijuana certificates in a variety of disciplines at places like Humboldt Cannabis College, THC University, the Grow School and Clover Leaf University. But this program is the first of its kind as it mixes organic chemistry, biochemistry, soils, biology, gas and liquid chromatography, biostatistics, genetics, accounting, financial management and perspectives on society.
The historical stigma associated with cannabis is slowly but steadily fading and there is a major gap in educational opportunities available to prepare students for this field. In a nutshell, the demand for labor is high while supply is low.
America is only just beginning to lower its eyebrows to the idea of marijuana. Recreational marijuana is still illegal in most states, including Michigan, which will vote on legalization this November. However, it is fully legal only in eight states and the sales boomed by 30% in 2016 to $6.7 billion in the US and Canada. North American marijuana sales are projected to top $20.2 billion by 2021. So it’s expected to create almost 250,000 jobs by 2020, according to a report by New Frontier Data. So there's more reason to jump into the marijuana business right now, as the Northern Michigan University program website notes.
Meanwhile, those who wish for a lucrative career in the marijuana industry, you know where to go!