Collegiate Cannabis Education Gets Boost With UConn Horticulture Class

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August 6, 2019

Last year, the University of Connecticut debuted a first-of-its-kind undergraduate course on the horticulture of cannabis. Now the university has made the course available online as other U.S. schools grow increasingly interested in educating students about the burgeoning industry.

"Very few universities — or no other universities — are teaching at this point, online or in the classroom, any course on growing cannabis," UConn plant science professor Gerald Berkowitz told Cheddar. "There's a tremendous amount of really good horticulture that isn't being covered in any class, up until this one."

Berkowitz taught the first iteration of the course on UConn's campus and oversees the administration of, but does not instruct, the online version available this summer.

Through UConn's class, students learn about the science of growing cannabis plants.

"Horticulture is all about decision-making," Berkowitz says, explaining that the class covers topics like the types of light that one would use for growing cannabis, ways to nurture seedlings, how to clone plants, and how best to select an irrigation system.

Connecticut has decriminalized without legalizing the use of recreational marijuana, though the state does allow medical marijuana use.

The on-campus course, which included more than 300 students, ran for the first time earlier this spring.

"There was an amazing amount of interest in the class," said Berkowitz. "We had to cap the class because we had the largest lecture hall at the university."

Both an in-class introductory and advanced version of the course will be available to students this fall.

Other universities are beginning to take their own approaches to cannabis-focused curricula.

Northern Michigan University offers a unique, four-year degree in medicinal plant chemistry, which the program markets to students hoping to enter the cannabis industry. The University of Vermont's medical college also offers modules on cannabis science and cannabis plant biology. Plus, Stockton University in New Jersey is offering a minor in cannabis studies.