Decrease of stigmatization of things and actions connected with marijuana use is becoming more and more visible in the United States, with growing number of states legalizing it not only for medical, but for recreational use as well. However, the country still lacks professionals who would be able to work with plant use for medical purposes. This was the motivation of Northern Michigan University Chemistry Department to launch a new 4-year program that includes studying weed.
The program that is called Medicinal Plant Chemistry is the only one of its kind in the country so far. As NMU press-release states, it is ‘to prepare students for success in emerging industries related to medicinal plant production, analysis and distribution’. The degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry is supposed to be a response to growing need in experts who would be able to apply it for medical purposes with maximum effect, as well as skilled entrepreneurs who would be vital for production of medicinal plants, specifically marijuana, their thorough analysis and responsible handling. Moreover, the scholars from NMU believe that such an approach would significantly increase overall safety of marijuana application process on all stages and result into much better quality of the products. However, though the program includes growing medicinal plants by students as part of the studies, marijuana won’t be one of those due to unresolved nationwide issues regarding its legal status.
While brand-new and even controversial for some people regarding active debates on marijuana use throughout the country, the program offers its graduates an opportunity to pursue careers in a number of spheres, namely environmental analysis, fermentation science, herbal supplements and food chemistry. Additionally, they would be able to further work in labs or graduate schools. The university states that the program fully complies with all the legislation on the matter.
However, the program is absolutely not for just marijuana enthusiasts. Students will be required to go through quite intense studies that will allow them to build a strong base in plant biology and chemistry along with one-year practical experience of plants cultivation and instrumental research of its properties. According to university’s description of the program, it will allow students to determine the track that is more interesting for them to follow, namely Entrepreneurial Track and Bio-analytical Track. The former will let graduates to successfully build and run businesses connected with plants’ growing and distribution, while the latter will enable them to become qualified promising researchers in biology and chemistry of plants that will give knowledge beyond current bachelor programs.
Marijuana has been a subject of loud and tense debates throughout the whole country for some time by now. While the stance towards it is quite visibly changing towards recognition and tolerance, it is clear that a responsible approach needs to be worked out in order to make its use as successful and safe as possible. And while a number of controversies is yet to be settled among scientists and politicians, the program of Northern Michigan University is likely to be a much needed and innovative response to the demands of the time.