It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse. The state hasn’t figured out yet how to license growers. There are still plenty of retail operations (provisioning centers) in the state, but there’s little flower to be had. Someone in Michigan government thinks they’re doing a good job. They aren’t.
It’s no longer just the medical cannabis market that has draconian fees and regulations. Now regulations for the recreational market are coming. And the fees are cutting out the little guy…again. Michigan’s actions and proposed regulatory rules for applying for a grow or dispensary license will ensure the black market remains larger than the legal cannabis market. Big moneyed players are the only ones who can get in the rec game. And when there’s no product in the legal recreational marketplace (dispensaries), there will be plenty of money flowing into the black market. Michigan is going to lose 100s of millions of dollars to the same market where it has always lost potential tax revenue. It’s the illegal market.
The Michigan Cannabis Market is in Deep Trouble
The Michigan cannabis market is at a dangerous crossroads and it’s the fault of the new governor, plain and simple. Governor Whitmer (D) was elected last November on a campaign promise to normalize the Michigan medical cannabis market and develop the best adult use market in the U.S. In the face of current evidence, the promises are hot air.
New Michigan Cannabis Licensing Agency
Governor Whitmer dissolved the old bureaucracy licensing retail and grow operations. She then initiated a new regulatory department called Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). The MRA is supposed to be efficiently granting licenses. They’re not. It’s run by the same person who previously held up licenses, Andrew Brisbo. The people at the regulatory agency are breaking their arms patting themselves on their collective back for the good work they’re doing. The MRA is not doing good work, or enough of it to help the state markets now. If they were doing a good job, the dispensary shelves would not be bare.
Street Reality for Michigan Cannabis
The reality is quite different on the street. Medical cannabis patients are hurting. Effective medicinal products are not available, including Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). RSO is reputed to have an analgesic effect on cancer. There is at least one lawsuit because of the lack of product some cancer patients need. It’s not going to get better soon unless the courts step in once again and tell the regulators in Michigan to get their act together.
So, What Happened in Michigan?
A quick recapitulation of the facts; Gov. Whitmer dissolved the department of the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in charge of licensing both growers and retail operators. She replaced it with a new department called the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). This simply substitutes one bureaucracy for another. Both the old LARA and the new MRA are run by the same person, Andrew Brisbo. Brisbo gives the impression he does not care about the medical cannabis market or its patients.
The MRA has granted only twelve grow licenses to date. Twelve grow licenses for well over 100 licensed stores in Michigan? There’s just not enough cannabis to go around. Currently, dispensaries have very little cannabis flower product on the shelves.
Michigan’s Cannabis Market
Michigan growers have little interest in growing flower, as concentrates are much more profitable.
Michigan caregivers (the original growers of cannabis) gave way to an unregulated hodgepodge of stores. This was the original failure of the state; A failure to regulate the burgeoning medical cannabis retail market. The adult use market is supposed to start later this year. If it happens, the shelves will be bare.
Currently, there are about 300,000 registered medical cannabis patients in Michigan. If they only smoked two grams per week, per person, about 13,000 pounds of weed per week would be needed to keep patients supplied with cannabis.
13,000 pounds/week works out to more than 50,000 pounds a month. That’s a lot of weed. It takes at least 20 weeks to go from planted seed or clone to cured harvest. Twelve growers, no matter how big, can’t handle that. 100 big growers, maybe. How does Michigan expect to grow the market when adult use comes online? The simple answer is, they can’t. Dispensaries only have 12 growers from which to buy. Past caregivers can either dump what they have or divert it to the black market. Guess what is going to happen? The black market will thrive!
What Michigan Needs to Do to Fix the Problem
Here are 5 things Michigan needs to do right now. Not three or six months from now. Now!
Recognize cannabis is business. The state gets tax revenue from these businesses. In order to operate and thrive, businesses needs inventory. Cannabis flower inventory in the market right now is scant, and has been for over a year.
Allow caregivers (and let’s call them small growers, since that’s what they are) to sell their product to the dispensaries.
Open up the licensing system for smaller growers with smaller fees.Now everyone has to show at least $150,000 in assets, with $37,500 in liquid assets. That’s a non-starter for many people who might like to become a grower. The current Michigan cannabis licensing fee scale is pretty steep. This takes smaller growers out of the cannabis business.Convert “caregivers” to “growers” and make them ’boutique’ growers for a new, craft category. Treat them like the state treats wineries or distillers. Allow the ’boutique’ growers to grow 50 to 100 plants. Create a lower fee for smaller grow operations. This allows smaller, disadvantaged communities access into the marketplace. What a win-win!
Regulate the Michigan cannabis model after the alcoholic beverage market. Both are controlled substances. Both need regulation at some level, especially because both are revenue streams for the state.
Let growers and dispensaries have a say in how they’re regulated. The best interests for both groups will regulate the free flow of legal cannabis products in Michigan. Make sensible regulations and implement them slowly enough to not disrupt the market.
The Current Reality
Excess cannabis grown by past ‘caregivers’ is currently not allowed in dispensaries. Until earlier this year it was. Now it is going to the illegal market. Where does the state think it’s going? Do they think growers going to destroy their harvests? What should the small cannabis farmers do? They need to make a living. The cannabis is going to the black market, that’s what is happening. Since January 2019, 3 times Michigan failed to implement a reasonable and thoughtful approach to medical cannabis.
Get your head out of your nether regions, Michigan. You have patients, and soon adult consumers, wanting to pay tax dollars to the state.
[Canniseur: I maybe a little more fanatical than some or maybe a little less than others, but I hate a dirty bong. Plus, dank water smells horrible and tastes even worse. Here’s some good ideas about how to clean out your bong and why it’s not healthy to smoke out of a dank bong or pipe.]
Smoking out of a dirty bong, water pipe, or rig is a recipe for a lung infection. Here’s how often you need to change your water and clean your piece.
Dirty bongs, water pipes, and oil rigs can make you sick! Inhaling dirty bong water can deliver ashy resin, fungus, bacteria, and other potential pathogens right into your lungs. This increases your chances of developing a pulmonary infection, which is certainly not fun for anyone. Fortunately, this problem has a simple solution: change your bong water. Here’s how often you should do it.
How often should you change your bong water?
Heavy cannabis consumers should change their bong water at least once a day. Similarly, running some boiling water through your dry pipe or bubbler before daily use can limit the ash particles and potential pathogens that you’re inhaling.
If you’re hoping to get the most flavor out of your ground bud or concentrates, some enthusiasts change their bong and bubbler water before each new strain or before each smoke session.
For the daily consumer, this can seem like overkill. For the casual consumer, however, it’s a good idea to thoroughly rinse your bong with freshly boiled water after each use.
Set your bong or water pipe out to dry completely before putting it away until the next time. Always use fresh water each time you break out your bong or pipe.
At the bare minimum, daily consumers should change their bong water ever two to three days. Those that live in hot, dry climates may be able to get away with waiting as long as one week, but this is not recommended.
Heavy consumers are also recommended to clean their bong with alcohol and salt every seven to 10 days to reduce resin buildup that cannot be melted away with hot water.
Keep in mind that different climates may encourage mold and mildew growth. If you have water in your piece, make sure to store it in a warm, dry, and clean location.
4 signs that you need to change your bong water
Just looking at a bong will tell you whether or not it needs to be cleaned. However, if you’re wondering if a piece is safe to smoke from, here are four simple signs that you need to change your bong water:
1. Foul odor
If you’re sketched out about a dirty looking bong, follow your nose. If a bong smells bad, it is well past due for a cleaning and a water change. When you get to this stage, cleaning your piece with alcohol and salt is recommended.
However, at the bare minimum, run some boiling water through your piece before filling it in with the fresh stuff.
2. Dark water
Has your bong water gone from clear to brown? Does it have floating particles of stuff inside of it? Some discoloration in your water will occur with any use. However, the darker the color and the dirtier the bong or water pipe, the greater the risk of lung infection.
If you don’t have time to clean your bong, or you are smoking out of someone else’s bong, a simple freshening up with clean water can greatly improve the overall cannabis experience.
3. Resin buildup
While some people are known to scrape out the resin inside of a dab rig to try to salvage ever last bit of the psychoactivity, this is not recommended. Resin buildup inside a bong is often charred, drastically distorting the flavor of the resin and whatever bud or concentrate you happen to be smoking.
The remnants of charred plant matter or resin can act as a starting point for molds and mildews, which potentially giving them something to eat and break down, as well as increased surface area on which to cling.
For optimal smoking experience and optimal health, it’s best to avoid smoking from devices that are exposed to water and contain substantial resin buildup.
4. Mold and mildews
Water is a vital ingredient for life. Anytime water is present, there exists an opportunity for life to thrive. Unfortunately, living things do not belong in a bong, bubbler, oil rig, or any other sort of water pipe. Even if your device is regularly used for smoking, pathogenic fungus and bacteria can still survive.
While some bacteria and fungi are beneficial, the kinds that grow inside of a bong do not belong in your lungs. To play it safe, do not smoke out of any sort of water device that contains molds or mildews. It’s best to avoid smoking if your device contains:
NOTE: If you have a valid medical marijuana card from any legal state, you can purchase at Michigan dispensaries. Michigan has reciprocity with any state that has legalized medical cannabis.
Ann Arbor Medical Cannabis Dispensaries: Review
Cannabis in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI is ground zero for the cannabis legalization movement. Way back in 1972 Ann Arbor decriminalized marijuana. The city council overwhelmingly voted to make possession a $5 fine as a misdemeanor. Inflation has ravaged the fine and now it’s $25, but … WAIT!!! Cannabis is legal in Michigan. As of the Nov 2018 election, there are no fines or arrests for having cannabis in your possession. While it is legal to possess, it is not legal to smoke in public. Nor can you buy it yet without a valid medical marijuana card. In 1972, Ann Arbor was the first city in the U.S. to recognize that people were consuming cannabis and the police were spending too much time ‘busting’ people with cannabis. These people were mostly students at the little university in town; Michigan. Fast forward. In 2008 Michigan legalized medical marihuana (the state’s retro spelling for some reason), and Ann Arbor was at the forefront again with dispensaries, called provisioning centers in Michigan legalese.
There are lots of dispensaries in Ann Arbor. How are they run? Do any stand out from the pack? Yes.
As on now in 2019, there are only medical marijuana shops in Michigan. Adult use cannabis shops will open in 2020. The current crop of dispensaries in Ann Arbor are a microcosm of dispensaries all over the country. While cannabis is legal in many places, is not normalized anywhere yet. If you have any doubts, you need only look as far as Colorado where the dispensaries mostly have a sameness to them. Little (or big) anteroom at the front where you can sit while you wait to go into the sanctum sanctorum where the ‘stuff’ is kept and sold. And only one person is allowed in at a time…usually. Michigan dispensaries are built on that model. At the end of the day, these are all retail stores. They have retail design that makes people feel comfortable or not. They treat customers as if they really wanted them back. Or not. It’s retail. The same as a liquor store. There are too many dispensaries in Ann Arbor to review for this story and if I left you out, I apologize.
Almost all dispensaries in Ann Arbor offer a ‘deal’ the first time you sign up to purchase their products. And all will be happy to send you a daily text about “Medible Mondays” or “WOWIE Wednesdays.” Rather than a daily deal which is designed to bring people into the dispensaries frequently, I’d rather have good, stable prices. Prices that reflect the buzz and not the percent of THC in the flower. But that’s my own axe to grind. Currently, almost all prices are reflected in the quantity of THC and not the quality of the whole flower.
What Was Reviewed and how?
This analysis consists of my thoughts on each of the dispensaries reviewed. I considered the ambiance, as in “How does it feel inside? The selection of products How balanced is the selection? Is there ‘something for me? The knowledge of the budtenders. Do the budtenders know and understand the medical uses for each strain along with the terpene profile? And finally, price. I won’t say too much about that, because mostly they’re in line with one another and sadly the prices seem to be wholly dependent of percentages. The percent of THC certainly doesn’t have a real bearing on the quality of the cannabis. That depends on a more holistic view of the plant; THC, CBD terpenes and other cannabinol compounds present in the mix.
A word about packaging. Most dispensaries pre-weigh their cannabis flower. I don’t mind that so much although I don’t get any choice about which particular buds I might want to buy. Most (but not all) dispensaries sell their single grams in a teensy plastic zip lock bag. Personally, I dislike (dislike might not be a strong enough word) the “zip-lock” packaging. It’s prone to delivering dried and/or crushed bud and that’s not good. Larger quantities usually come in jars which are much better than the little plastic bags, but again, no choice of buds. The most common packaging I’ve seen in several states is a “pill jar” package which has the advantage of coming in several sizes, is almost, but not quite water proof for keeping your bud fresh. The very best packaging I’ve ever seen is a metal and cardboard tin where While I don’t necessarily want the biggest buds, I do photograph them a lot so a bigger bud is sometimes what I need. At home, I store my bud in small mason jars with a 62% humidity pouch. It keeps it fresh that way.
Ann Arbor, MI Medical Dispensaries
Om of Medicine (112 S. Main St.) – One of the older shops in Ann Arbor. They used to be on the third floor of a building on Main Street, but recently moved into a Main Street storefront that gives them far easier access. I really enjoy their friendliness and selection. Always a smile. And a lot of good usable knowledge. Once you’ve shown your card and ID, you can walk into their very large lobby with lots of green plants on one of the walls along with a whole bunch of art. When It’s your turn, someone comes to get you and you’re ushered into a small room where you can make your purchases. If you have a specific effect you’re looking for, they will fill the bill.
Bloom City Club (423 Miller Ave.) – Operated by women, this dispensary has a nice homey and relaxed feeling that just makes you feel good. At Bloom, everything you buy is weighed individually. This is only one of two dispensaries that I’ve seen in Ann Arbor that does this. Maybe this will disappear, but I hope not. It’s a kind of personalization that customers like and maybe why the store is almost always crowded. As long as they keep doing it, there is a selection of flower kept in individual humidified containers and you can pick out the buds you want, if you’d like. Their flower selection is wide and deep and their various concentrates and edibles they sell is also pretty vast. Bloom certainly goes out of their way to make you feel good about what you’re purchasing. An interesting note about Bloom is they seem to have high turnover in staff. The last time I was in (this week) there wasn’t anyone I recognized.
LiV Wellness & Cafe, 603 E. William St.— Not easy to find even though right downtown by the UofM campus. A tiny door wedged between parts of a popular pizza shop on William and Maynard and upstairs. When you do find it, Liv is worth the search. They probably has the best selection of cannabis in the city. It might not be the fanciest, but it’s a huge selection. Besides Bloom City Club, Liv is the only store that weighs the bud right in front of your eyes. While I do enjoy kief and water wash bubble, their selections of concentrates and edibles is large. The budtenders are friendly and generally possess good knowledge of different cannabis strains.
Greenstone Society, 338 S. Ashley St. – This dispensary is less than a block from where I live, so it’s a natural for me. I’ve had different experiences here. Once I went there and the budtender was very um, clipped. It was as though she couldn’t wait to get me out of her hair. Certainly didn’t make me feel good. I’d have to say retail was not her calling. However, every other time I’ve been there, I’ve had incredibly nice experiences. Their selection might not be the largest, but it’s certainly good quality in everything.
Treecity Health Collective, 2730 Jackson Ave. – This dispensary is right next to I-94 at Jackson Road. It’s not easy to find, situated in a corner of a little strip center. Pleasant entry area where you show your ID and sing the crazy stuff they, and every other dispensary in Michigan, make you sign every time you go in. Inside the shop part has lots of glass cases, The selection is usually small, but high quality. The budtenders here are generally quite knowledgeable and the packaging for anything over a gram is sealed glass. I kind of like that.
Medicine Man of Ann Arbor, 2793 Plymouth Road – Out in the ‘burbs of East Ann Arbor, Medicina Man is a bit different. It’s on the 2nd floor of a small office space on Plymouth Rd. You have to drive into the lot and find it on the east side of the building, then walk up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, you essentially walk into the retail part of the shop. Their selection is pretty well curated, but I will say I got some dried out and not very good bud there once. Budtenders were modestly knowledgeable, but enough for an experienced user. Some of the other dispensaries might be a better choice for a newer consumer.
Arbors Wellness, 321 E. Liberty – Located in an old house in the center of town, Arbor’s Wellness does a good job with product and budtenders with product knowledge. The packaging is standard with grams in zip bags. One thing I’ve found; If you’re walking on Liberty, you’ll be able to see the little sign, but where do you go in. You have to go to a side door through a path that feels a slight bit like a maze. When you go in, it can be a bit disconcerting as to where to check in with your medical ID and driver’s license, then when you leave, there’s more of a maze to get out. Maybe it’s a test?
Exclusive Provisioners – In an industrial Park on the far south side of Ann Arbor. Walk in and a little window (which I missed) was on the right. That’s it. Bare lobby nothing at all in there. No place to sit. Fellow at the front window was a bit gruff, but that was OK, no harm done. This company used to be called Canniseur (yep, close to our name) and were located closer to downtown. I don’t know when or why they moved. I’d been in there a long time ago, and I do recall it being operated by hippie types. The same people are there. They are sweet, but a bit of a throwback. Their knowledge was OK, but one of the budtenders didn’t even know what a terpene is. There wasn’t a ton of thought put into the design of the interior. Just some old store counter (probably from an auction) along three walls and that’s it. There might have been a poster on the wall, but it was innocuous. Selection was just OK and the quality was good. The prices seemed about the same or a dollar or so higher than almost all the other shops.
Arborside, 1818 Packard St. – Packard is one of the main streets in Ann Arbor. This store only has a store number on it and the numbers are big, but as long as you know the number, you’re good. A bit strange inside, but nice. After you check in, there are lots of places you can sit. When you’re called inside, the budtenders are quite nice and knowledgeable. I can’t really say it’s decorated inside. There were posters, but that’s about it. The selection, while not vast proved to be of better than average quality. I liked that.
Peoples Choice, 2245 W. Liberty St. – I visited this place once. It’s in a little light industrial strip center, so you have to look for them. Apparently they did not reopen after the Michigan craziness of January and February, even though the storefront is there. They do have a business in Jackson about 30 miles west of Ann Arbor. For now, even though they say they’re going to reopen, they are out of business.
Below is an abstract from the most important AIDS conference in the US. It’s a bit scientific, but important reading. The whole paper was presented at the recent HIV conference in Seattle at the beginning of March. The Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) is a difficult issue in medicine since drugs meant for the brain are almost impossible to get across the BBB. This could have implications for further cannabis research about the BBB and the role of cannabis on crossing the barrier. The abstract begins below with a listing of the authors of the paper. This is just an abstract that speaks to the findings and not the paper itself.
Author(s): Ronald J. Ellis, Jennifer Iudicello, Erin Morgan, Brook Henry, Rachel Schrier, Mariana Cherner, Martin Hoenigl, Scott L. Letendre
University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA,University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
HIV infection is associated with increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which may permit increased entry of toxins with consequent CNS injury. Cannabis, which is commonly used among people living with HIV (PLWH); has anti-inflammatory effects; and stabilizes the BBB in animal models. One potential mechanism of increased BBB permeability is upregulation of the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), a matrix-degrading proteolytic enzyme, and its receptor, uPAR, disrupting the basal lamina around cerebral capillaries. This study sought to determine the effects of recent cannabis use on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of uPAR, CSF-to-serum albumin ratio (CSAR, an indicator of BBB permeability), and neuroinflammation among PLWH.
Participants were 45 recent (i.e., within the past month) cannabis users with (HIV+) or without HIV (HIV-) who were comparable in age (mean age=39.3) and sex (93.3% male). CSF levels of soluble uPAR, soluble CD14 (sCD14) and CXCL-10 were measured by immunoassay. Albumin was measured in CSF by nephelometry and in serum by a clinical assay. Data were analyzed using standard statistical methods, including regression and t-tests.
A statistically significant interaction (p=0.025) was present between HIV and cannabis use frequency (total days over the past month): more frequent use of cannabis was associated with lower concentrations of uPAR in CSF in the HIV+ group (p=0.043) but not in the HIV- group. The CSAR showed similar but non-statistically significant effects. Within the HIV+ group, higher CSF uPAR levels correlated with higher CSAR values (rho=0.47; pThese preliminary findings suggest that cannabis may have a beneficial impact on HIV-associated BBB injury and neuroinflammation. Given the role of the BBB in HIV-associated CNS injury, these results support the potential therapeutic role of cannabis among PLWH, and may have important treatment implications for antiretroviral therapy effectiveness and toxicity.
[Editor’s Note: It’s inevitable that universities will offer all manner of cannabis courses. I wonder which school will become the UC Davis of cannabis? UC Davis is ground zero for wine schools in the U.S.]
It’s predicted the industry will support nearly half a million jobs by 2022
The programs are designed to prepare students for jobs cultivating, researching, analyzing and marketing the herb
Around three hundred students signed up for the new four-year degree program in medicinal plant chemistry at Northern Michigan University
In most of the colleges students work with hemp and other plants rather than marijuana but gain knowledge that can be applied to the cannabis industry
Cannabis studies are also offered by colleges in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut even though recreational pot remains illegal in those states
A growing number of colleges are adding cannabis to the curriculum including schools in states where recreational marijuana remains illegal.
Research shows there are high times ahead for all kinds of careers in cannabis, ranging from greenhouse and dispensary operators to edible product developers, marketing specialists, quality assurance lab directors and pharmaceutical researchers.
Arcview Market Research, which focuses on cannabis industry trends, projects the industry will support 467,000 jobs by 2022.
And even in states where recreational marijuana remains illegal, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, some colleges have launched cannabis studies programs in anticipation of legalization or to prepare students for jobs in other states cultivating, researching, analyzing and marketing the herb.
Colton Welch, a junior at the State University of New York at Morrisville, New York, tends hydroponic tomato plants which will provide students with data applicable to cannabis cultivation
Grace DeNoya is used to getting snickers when people learn she’s majoring in marijuana.
‘My friends make good-natured jokes about getting a degree in weed,’ said DeNoya, one of the first students in a new four-year degree program in medicinal plant chemistry at Northern Michigan University. ‘I say, ‘No, it’s a serious degree, a chemistry degree first and foremost. It’s hard work. Organic chemistry is a bear.”
‘We’re providing a fast track to get into the industry,’ said Brandon Canfield, a chemistry professor at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Two years ago, he proposed a new major in medicinal plant chemistry after attending a conference where cannabis industry representatives spoke of an urgent need for analytical chemists for product quality assessment and assurance.
The four-year degree, which is the closest thing to a marijuana major at an accredited U.S. university, has drawn nearly 300 students from 48 states, Canfield said. Students won’t be growing marijuana, which was recently legalized by Michigan voters for recreational use. But Canfield said students will learn to measure and extract medicinal compounds from plants such as St. John’s Wort and ginseng and transfer that knowledge to marijuana.
ven in states where recreational marijuana remains illegal, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, some colleges have launched cannabis studies programs like the SUNY campus in Morrisville
Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, left, assistant professor of agriculture at State University of New York, Morrisville, and Kelly Hennigan, who is author of the cannabis minor and chair of the Horticulture Department, hold a tray of cannabis seedlings at the SUNY campus in Morrisville
A similar program is being launched at Minot State University in North Dakota this spring. The college said students will learn lab skills applicable to medical marijuana, hops, botanical supplements and food science industries.
‘All of our graduates are going to be qualified to be analysts in a lab setting,’ Canfield said, noting that experience could lead to a position paying $70,000 right out of school. Those wishing to start their own businesses can choose an entrepreneurial track that adds courses in accounting, legal issues and marketing.
‘I came in planning to do the bioanalytical track, maybe go work in a lab,’ said DeNoya, 27, who was considering nursing school when she heard about the NMU program. ‘I just switched to the entrepreneurial track. I figured that would better position me, as the industry is still expanding and changing and growing so much.’
The expected boom in cannabis-related jobs has colleges responding with a range of offerings. Colorado State University offers a cannabis studies minor focusing on social, legal, political and health impacts. Ohio State University, Harvard, the University of Denver and Vanderbilt offer classes on marijuana policy and law.
The new four-year degree program in medicinal plant chemistry at Northern Michigan University is the closest thing to a marijuana major at an accredited U.S. university. It has drawn nearly 300 students from 48 states
Universities have done little research on marijuana because of federal restrictions, but that’s starting to change. UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative, which bills itself as one of the first academic programs in the world dedicated to the study of cannabis, has studies underway ranging from medical treatments to economic impacts.
Agricultural schools are also getting in on the action. The University of Connecticut is launching a cannabis horticulture program this spring.
‘We’re following the market,’ said Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Morrisville, a college in rural central New York that’s launched a new minor in cannabis studies in its horticulture department this year. Students work with hemp and other plants rather than marijuana, but can take internships at medical marijuana facilities, Jenkins said.
In New Jersey, Stockton University started an interdisciplinary cannabis minor last fall and recently forged an academic partnership with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia that gives students the opportunity for internships and research work in medical marijuana and hemp.
Cannabis seedlings grow under lights as part of a research project by students in the new cannabis minor program at the State University of New York at Morrisville
‘Most of the students are interested in novel business opportunities,’ said Kathy Sedia, coordinator of the cannabis minor at Stockton.
Cannabis businesses range from medical and recreational marijuana to foods, fabrics and myriad other products derived from industrial hemp. The basis for all is the cannabis sativa plant.
Marijuana is produced by varieties with high levels of THC, the chemical compound that makes people high. Hemp has only a trace of THC, but produces cannabidiol, or CBD, used in a broad range of nutritional and therapeutic products that are all the rage right now.
Marijuana is legal for medical purposes in 33 states and as a recreational drug in 10. While marijuana remains illegal federally, the 2018 Farm bill cleared the way for widespread cultivation of hemp.
Colton Welch checks root development on hydroponic tomato plants which will provide students with data applicable to cannabis cultivation at the State University of New York at Morrisville.
In New York, where legislators are moving to legalize recreational use of marijuana, hemp has become a new source of income for farmers as well as jobs at processing and manufacturing businesses. The state’s first legal hemp crop was harvested in 2016 under a Morrisville research license, which gave rise to the new cannabis minor.
‘I see a lot more farmers reaching out and trying to find people who know about this new crop,’ said Colton Welch, an agriculture business student pursuing the cannabis minor at Morrisville. ‘We’re only beginning to see the wide application this plant has.’
Karson Humiston, founder of Vangst, an employment agency specializing in cannabis jobs, said the industry outlook is bright for students.
‘More jobs are being created in this space than in any other space in North America, with salaries sometimes more competitive than other industries,’ Humiston said. ‘With every new state that legalizes, tons of jobs are opening up.’