Legalized marijuana is big business. According to Forbes, North American sales surged by 30 percent in 2016 to $6.7 billion. Sales are projected to reach $20.2 billion by 2021.
Northern Michigan University offers a new and unique four-year B.S. degree program to train experts for the rapidly growing legalized marijuana industry, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Mark Paulsen, director of the university’s chemistry department, told the Free Press that a dozen students signed up this semester for the first classes. But as word spreads, he expects that number to increase sharply.
The curriculum combines the sciences—including organic chemistry, biochemistry and genetics—with business courses in accounting and financial management.
It’s far more demanding than simply learning how to grow marijuana plants. Students will develop expertise that includes learning how to measure and extract marijuana compounds for medicinal purposes.
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According to the Free Press, Michigan estimates its revenues from medical marijuana sales at more than $700 million. Significant job and revenue increases are expected if the state expands legalized use of pot.
“Many of the states are legalizing different substances and they’re really looking for quality people to do the chemistry and the science,” NMU trustee James Haveman told the Free Press. “And it’s the university’s responsibility to produce those kinds of students for those kinds of jobs.”
The newspaper noted that several other colleges and universities offer classes on marijuana policy and law. However, the NMU program is the first to offer a comprehensive degree that prepares students to work in the legalized marijuana industry.