Pioneering Cannabis Education at Eastern Michigan University This Fall

March 19th, 2024 Safety & Education
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Eastern Michigan University (EMU) is set to introduce two pioneering courses in its fall semester curriculum, aimed at providing comprehensive insight into the burgeoning cannabis industry. The initiative reflects the university's commitment to offering educational programs that align with evolving industry trends and societal discussions.

The first course, titled "URP 479: Canna-planning: Marijuana Legalization and Land-Use in Michigan," delves into a variety of topics crucial to understanding the cannabis sector. These include the history of cannabis prohibition, the impact of the war on drugs, nuances of rural and urban cultivation practices, and the intricate dynamics of legal sales regulation and taxation. Dr. RJ Koscielniak, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Geology at EMU, emphasized the uniqueness of this offering, stating, "There isn't another course like this in the United States. No other university is teaching this material and asking these kinds of questions with their students." This course aims to equip students with a deep understanding of local and state cannabis legislation, preparing them to navigate and contribute to the industry effectively.

In the fiscal year 2023, Michigan's licensed cannabis dispensaries reported unprecedented sales, totaling $3.06 billion—a 25% increase from the previous year. This surge in sales, boosted by a 10% excise tax on recreational cannabis, is expected to contribute over $274 million to local governments, educational institutions, and infrastructure projects, showcasing the significant economic impact of the cannabis industry in the state.

Dr. Koscielniak also noted the transformative effects of cannabis legalization on various Michigan communities, acknowledging both positive and negative outcomes. The course aims to foster a balanced discussion on ensuring that the benefits of legalization are equitably distributed.

The second course on offer, focusing on the chemistry of cannabis, aims to unravel the scientific processes underlying the production of cannabis products. Led by Dr. Harriet Lindsay, professor and interim department head of chemistry, this course will cover the extraction of plant sources to isolate terpenes, cannabinoids (including CBD), and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Dr. Lindsay highlighted the growing importance of understanding the science behind cannabis, especially in light of the expanding legalization across the United States. The course will address how cannabis products are manufactured, tested for regulatory compliance, and their interaction with consumers.

These innovative courses at EMU underscore the institution's proactive approach to integrating relevant, cutting-edge topics into its academic offerings, catering to the interests and needs of students while addressing the broader implications of the cannabis industry's expansion.

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