Colorado State University on Friday became the first university in the state to receive approval to offer a cannabis-related degree program.
The program — called “Cannabis, Biology and Chemistry” — is expected to launch this fall and will cover neurobiology, biochemistry, and genetics.
“It’s a rigorous degree geared toward the increasing demand coming about because of the cannabis industry,” College of Science and Mathematics dean David Lehmpuhl told the Denver Post.
The program at the university’s Pueblo campus about 115 miles south of Denver would be similar to doing a double-major in biology and chemistry.
According to the university, the program will focus on the science necessary to work in the cannabis field and emphasize natural products and analytical chemistry
“Hemp and marijuana has really come to the forefront in a lot of economic sectors in the country,” Lehmpuhl said. “We’re not pro-cannabis or anti-cannabis. What we’re about will be the science, and training students to look at that science.”
The degree program will focus on two separate areas: natural products and analytical chemistry.
In the natural products coursework, students will learn in a lab setting and cover the genetics of cannabis or other plants with additional courses in neurobiology, biochemistry, and genetics.
“A lot of the products that people are selling from the cannabis plant, if they can be genetically produced, become more profitable,” Lehmpuhl said.
The analytical chemistry coursework will teach students about the chemical compounds of cannabis.
Colorado State University’s lab is licensed to grow industrial hemp and students will likely work with cannabis high in CBD and low THC amounts, officials said.
According to the Denver Post, the Colorado State University system also plans to open a new research center at its Fort Collins campus dedicated to studying cannabinoids early 2020.
“One of the things that motivated us to develop this program was this industry is sort of developed without oversight and regulation,” Lehmpuhl said.
“I think now it’s becoming clear when you look at even the recent vaping crisis that occurred that there’s a need for having trained scientists in that space.”