Cannabis education opportunities abound. After decades of intense government restriction, the atmosphere has shifted. Educators and universities now hope to prepare students for careers in the burgeoning cannabis industry. That was the motivation behind the University of Connecticut’s summer course “Horticulture of Cannabis: From Seed to Harvest.”
The course is taught online. “This is the first online cannabis horticulture course offered by any U.S. academic institution. While there are many online cannabis courses focusing on horticulture, they all are associated with for-profit, non-accredited companies,” says Gerald Berkowitz, a professor in the university’s Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture.
“The ability to offer academic courses in the area of cannabis provides students with knowledge, experience, and skills that are sought-after by the fast-developing cannabis industry.”
33 states have legalized cannabis in some form. Hemp is legal across the U.S. due to 2018’s Farm Bill. The industry needs growers, manufacturers, retail managers, etc., who are well-versed in cannabis. UConn’s course focuses on indoor and outdoor grow operations, with time devoted toward learning “seed production, propagation of clones from cuttings, pruning and plant training, crop management techniques to maximize cannabinoid levels, post-harvest handling and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] extraction.”
There are university-level cannabis courses at other schools as well, but they’re still fairly rare. As of 2020, there are two accredited universities in the U.S. where you can earn a four-year, cannabis-centric degree: Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI, and Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. At the graduate level, students can complete the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s master’s degree in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics.
UConn’s offering is unique because it’s entirely virtual as well as scientifically rigorous.
“Students who take this course learn that there are numerous complexities when growing a crop. It’s a lot more than simply planting a seed and watching a plant grow,” says course instructor Matt DeBacco. “UConn has taken the first step to providing the rapidly expanding industry with an educated workforce that understands the production of cannabis in a scalable and sustainable manner.”
Although the summer session has passed, be sure to look for upcoming sessions.
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