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Business & Profession Education, Profession

Cannabis Science: The Next Generation

The cannabis industry fosters innovation and entrepreneurship, with many big players in the field building on past experience in more federally palatable industries. But with market projections for the sale of cannabis at $10billion, and an increasing demand for robust scientific testing, the cannabis industry is looking like an increasingly attractive career choice for young scientists.

Tapping into this interest is the Medicinal Plant Chemistry program at Northern Michigan University, established by Brandon Canfield, Associate Professor of Chemistry. The course aims to meet the “renewed and enthusiastic interest in medicinal plant chemistry as it relates to the herbal extract market and more recently to the emerging cannabis market,” and is firmly rooted in the science. The syllabus includes:

    • Examination of various classes of bioactive compounds and their origins
    • Secondary metabolite chemistry
    • Theories of extraction and sample preparation
    • Theory and operation of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)
    • Good laboratory practices and focus on laboratory accreditation.

    Students will also have the opportunity to develop quantitative analytical methods while pursuing greenhouse/grow room research projects, and are required to include some business-focused element to their studies, such as accounting, financial management or current industry trends. As yet, the students are not permitted to handle cannabis plants on campus, but internships will be available at licensed Michigan businesses, so that students can get hands-on experience.

    According to the program webpage, this is the first degree in the world to combine “rigorous coursework in chemistry and biology with research and hands on instrumental analysis built into the curriculum to prepare its graduates for a career in the cannabis industry.” The structure and content of the four-year course will produce graduates who “will not only be qualified to perform instrumental analysis in a laboratory, but will also be empowered to build their own testing laboratory, dispensary, and growing operation from the ground up.”

    Find out more at www.nmu.edu/chemistry/medicinal-plant-chemistry

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