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US university offering degree in marijuana

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ganja-image-3.jpgA university in Michigan is offering an unusual degree -- in marijuana.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette began its medical plant chemistry program this semester, with about a dozen students in the first class, the Detroit Free Press reported. The programme combines chemistry, biology, botany, horticulture, marketing and finance.

It's an unusual programme. Other universities offer classes on marijuana policy and law. And places such as Oaksterdam University, Cannabis College, and Humboldt Cannabis College, all in California; and THC University, the Grow School and Clover Leaf University in Denver offer certificates in a variety of disciplines. But Northern Michigan's programme is unique because the university is offering a four-year degree addressing the science and business behind growing marijuana.

"When they hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who say, 'Wow, cool dude. You're going to get a degree growing marijuana,'" said Alex Roth, a sophomore in the programme. "But it's not an easy degree at all."

Brandon Canfield, an associate chemistry professor at Northern Michigan, said students don't grow marijuana plants in the programme, but instead look to other plants that are traditionally recognised with medicinal value but aren't illegal to grow. Students learn how to measure and extract the compounds in the plants that can be used for medicinal purposes, then transfer that knowledge to marijuana, which has been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including chronic pain, nausea, seizures and glaucoma.

Canfield said he got the idea while attending the American Chemical Society's annual meeting in San Diego last year.

"It was my off day and I saw there was a cannabis chemistry group that was putting on a whole series of talks," he said. "I heard all about the need for analytical chemists and all sorts of interesting talks. That was the initial spark."

University officials say the programme fills a need because 29 states have legalised medical marijuana, including eight states where marijuana is also legal for recreational use. Source: (AP)

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