Here is the curriculum for the US’s first undergraduate weed degree

The Colorado State University program aims to prepare students to work in cannabis labs.
The Colorado State University program aims to prepare students to work in cannabis labs.
Image: Reuters/Carlos Osorio
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You can now major in weed.

A new program at Colorado State University-Pueblo, a campus serving 4,000 students in southern Colorado, will offer the country’s first official undergraduate degree studying cannabis with its new Cannabis Biology and Chemistry program. But Jeff Spicoli need not apply.

“It’s not a party degree,” says David Lehmpuhl, the school’s dean of the college of science and math, adding that the curriculum covers chemistry, physics, and advanced biology. “This is a really rigorous kind of scientific degree.” CSU-Pueblo is already home to a state-funded institute for cannabis research, and Lehmpuhl says the new major will prepare students to work in a laboratory setting, whether that means extracting CBD, analyzing soil, or researching the plant’s effects.

“We kind of looked at the industry, and the sector as a whole, and what was needed for students to get jobs,” says Lehmpuhl. “We have a lot of businesses in the area that are clamoring for workers.”

A handful of colleges and universities including Cornell, McGill, and the University of Maryland already offer courses, certificates, and graduate degrees in cannabis studies to prepare students for work in the burgeoning new legal industry. In July 2019, the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College in Israel announced it would offer an undergraduate degree in medical cannabis, and Northern Michigan University’s degree in Medicinal Plant Chemistry heavily emphasizes preparing students for the cannabis industry. (Students will enroll in CH420—get it?)

Lehmpuhl says that being the first undergraduate program in the US to put cannabis in its name has brought a lot of attention from the media and prospective students. “It’s been crazy,” he says.

The new major has two possible tracks. “Natural products” places a heavier emphasis on biology, whereas “analytical” is more focused on chemistry. Here’s what the program will entail.

*designates new classes