The school will offer a bachelor of science degree in cannabis biology and chemistry starting in the fall. State officials on Friday announced the approval of the first cannabis-related degree program in the state.
David Lehmpuhl, dean of CSU-Pueblo’s College of Science and Mathematics, said the program will educate students on the science needed to work in a burgeoning cannabis industry. The program will provide the option of focusing on natural products or analytical chemistry.
“It’s a rigorous degree geared toward the increasing demand coming about because of the cannabis industry,” Lehmpuhl told the Denver Post. “Hemp and marijuana has really come to the forefront in a lot of economic sectors in the country.”
In June, the Colorado Department of Revenue said the state had surpassed $1 billion in marijuana-related revenue since sales started in 2014. State officials said marijuana tax, license and fee revenue had hit $1.02 billion. Marijuana sales alone at that point had surpassed $6.56 billion.
“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,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said in a statement.
The Colorado school joins a handful of universities already offering cannabis-related degrees.
Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., and Minot State University in Minot, N.D., both offer bachelor’s degrees in medicinal plant chemistry. There are graduate degrees across the country, too — the University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy offers a master’s program in medical cannabis science and therapeutics.
The surge of marijuana vaping by teens that made headlines late last year is an example of what motivated the program, Lehmpuhl told the Denver Post.
“One of the things that motivated us to develop this program was this industry sort of developed without oversight and regulation,” he 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.”