A private Nebraska university is the newest school to offer a training program for students interested in careers in the cannabis industry. This fall, Doane University will launch an online three-course program entitled “Cannabis Science and Industries: Seeds to Needs,” according to a school press release. Designed by cannabis industry experts and academics with advanced degree credentials, the curriculum will cover topics that include cannabis science; wellness aspects of cannabis; cultivation and processing; regulations, safety and compliance; economic impacts; and professions in the cannabis industry. Graduates will receive a “Professional Cannabis Certificate” upon completion of the program.
Dr. Andrea Holmes, a chemistry professor at Doane, will be teaching the program. Holmes is also the co-founder of Colorado-based Precision Plant Molecules, which focuses on hemp extraction and non-psychotropic cannabinoids. Recently, she worked at AgriScience Labs, a state-certified marijuana testing facility in Colorado. There, Holmes tested consumer-facing products, such as marijuana flour and edibles for potency, residual solvents, terpenes, pesticides and other elements to ensure the safety of the products.
Dr. Amanda McKinney, an associate dean of health sciences and executive director of the Institute for Human and Planetary Health at Doane, collaborated with Holmes to develop the curriculum. Her medical insight was key. “Cannabis has been studied in-depth and much is published in medical literature on the benefits that can be provided from some of its component molecules,” said McKinney. “While not a ‘cure-all,’ cannabinoids can and should be used as they are safe and efficacious for many disorders.”
Holmes, who received a doctorate degree in organic chemistry at New York University and a post-doctorate at Columbia University, said the Doane cannabis program “is based on innovation, advancement of science, cutting edge pedagogy and will be expanded over time as the industry grows and federal regulations change.”
Recent regulatory changes in Nebraska have given extra impetus and immediacy to the creation of this program. Last May, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act. The new law recognizes hemp as a “viable agricultural crop, aligning state law with federal law.” Late last year, hemp was legalized on a federal level as a result of the Farm Bill. The Nebraska law paves the way for farmers and businesses to produce and sell hemp without legal ramifications.
In addition to setting up licensing and fee requirements for farmers who wish to grow hemp, the law would also “require registering the crop with a GPS location, and plants grown would be required to be submitted for testing to determine whether they contain less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive drug in marijuana,” reported the Lincoln Journal Star. Currently, neither medical nor recreational marijuana is legal in Nebraska.
Nebraska’s slow turnaround vis-à-vis the cannabis industry makes sense given the already high demand for educated professionals in agriculture, processing, wellness and manufacturing. The latest estimates from marijuana researchers The ArcView Group and BDS Analytics projects $22.2 billion for both the recreational and medical markets by 2022.
For more information on Doane’s Professional Cannabis Certificate Program, visit here.