A University In Colorado Launches Program In Cannabis Science

Starting this fall, a state university in Colorado will offer a bachelor's degree in the science of the cannabis plant, among the first programs of its kind in the nation.

Colorado State University-Pueblo’s new major in cannabis biology and chemistry, approved Friday by the Colorado Department of Higher Education, will require students to take a slew of high-level science and math courses.

“It’s a rigorous degree,” said David Lehmpuhl, a dean and chemistry professor at CSU who helped create the major. “It’s not how to grow cannabis, it’s to study the science of the plant.”

Lehmpuhl said the program will be the first of its kind in Colorado and one of only a few in the country, although he expects that number to grow. The university is already home to the state-funded Institute of Cannabis Research. He expects at least 60 students to enroll in the new major this fall.

“No matter if you’re pro-cannabis or anti-cannabis, it’s in our society so we thought it was in a sense our duty to make sure that we have people that are scientifically trained to be able to deal with it,” Lehmpuhl said.

He stresses that students will not be working with cannabis containing high levels of THC because of its illegal status at the federal level. Instead, the university’s labs will offer industrial hemp for study.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.