Western Illinois, Colorado State universities to offer cannabis-related degrees starting this fall

The art of growing cannabis will become a minor subject at Western Illinois University in the fall.

The university's school of agriculture in Macomb is acting on interest officials expressed in such a class before adult-use marijuana became legal in January.

RELATED: Groups push for more people of color in Illinois' marijuana industry

The minor in cannabis production will require 18 to 19 credit hours with additional coursework offered by Western Illinois' department of biological sciences.

School of agriculture director Andy Baker says faculty members are still working on partnerships with hemp producers and those in the recreational and medical marijuana businesses.

RELATED: Illinois legal weed sales total nearly $40M in 1st month

A university in Colorado will also offer a cannabis-related degree program after receiving approval from the state.

Colorado State University is expected to launch the program this fall at its Pueblo campus about 115 miles south of Denver, The Denver Post reported.

The Cannabis, Biology and Chemistry program would focus on the science necessary to work in the cannabis field and emphasize natural products and analytical chemistry, officials said.

"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 said. "Hemp and marijuana has really come to the forefront in a lot of economic sectors in the country. We're not pro-cannabis or anti-cannabis. What we're about will be the science, and training students to look at that science."

RELATED: First college cannabis program in Illinois trains students for weed industry

The curriculum would be similar to double-majoring in biology and chemistry, officials said.

The natural products coursework would place students in a lab setting to learn about the genetics of cannabis or other plants with additional courses in neurobiology, biochemistry and genetics, university officials said.

The analytical chemistry coursework would also place students in a lab setting to learn about the chemical compounds, such as determining what kind of cannabidiol concentration should exist in a product, university officials said.

The lab is licensed to grow industrial hemp and students might work with CBD, officials said.

The Colorado State University system also has plans to open a new research center on the Fort Collins campus dedicated to studying cannabinoids this spring.
Copyright © 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.