Many Michigan schools offer degrees in brewing beer, so I suppose this was the next logical step.

As the first date to file for medical marijuana licenses here inches closer (December 15), one Michigan university has jumped ahead and begun offering a degree in growing medicinal plants.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette has begun its first classes toward a degree in what they call 'Medicinal Plant Chemistry', calling it "the only 4-year undergraduate degree program of its kind designed to prepare students for success in the emerging industries relating to medicinal plant production, analysis, and distribution."

“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,’” NMU sophomore Alex Roth told the Detroit Free Press. “But it’s not an easy degree at all.”

University officials say the program follows the school's idea of filling needs in emerging fields. 29 states have legalized medical marijuana use, while another eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. These states will need personnel skilled in cultivating medical plants.

"The need for this is so great. You go to some of these cannabis industry conferences and everyone is talking about how they need labs, they need labs," Brandon Canfield, an associate chemistry professor at NMU, told CBS Detroit. "Or the bigger operations are trying to set up their own labs in house and they need trained analysts. And the skill set required to perform these analysis is perfectly matched with an undergraduate level education."

By law, the school won't be growing its own marijuana just yet. Instead, students will be taught to extract the medicinal qualities of other plants and learn to apply those chemical techniques to marijuana.

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