Roanoke College to start Cannabis Studies program
There’s no question the legal cannabis industry is growing fast and bringing with it new careers and economic opportunities.
"We can’t ignore our current cultural context and what the world of the future is going to be like," Roanoke College president Frank Shushok said Thursday as he announced the new Cannabis Studies program. "And we understand that our students, our future business majors, people who are working in public policy, people who are working in the criminal justice system, all of these people are telling us much learning needs to happen around science and policy and community engagements of cannabis studies."
The program will be the first in Virginia and among the few on the East Coast, according to the college.
Students working toward the Bachelor of Science degree can choose either a science track of botany, biology and chemistry or a policy track combining social justice and government regulation. A minor wiill also available.
They’ll be working only with plants that contain less than .3% THC and aren’t psychoactive.
Botanist and program leader DB Poli said keeping up with and educating about the fast-changing rules in Virginia and around the country may be the biggest challenge of all. "It is a daily, daily experience," Poli stressed. Administrators said the school did not need to obtain any special approvals to start the program.
Poli and others have been working for about two years to set up the program. It will start this fall. Shushok said he encouraged faculty to be bold and innovative with the idea. College vice president for academic affairs Kathy Wolfe said it's an example of the college moving to meet a need in the community. "I think this is a great opportunity to point out the ways in which higher education can be nimble and can be agile in coming up with innovative programs that can change with the external environment."
Shushok and Wolfe weren't sure how many students might participate, but said the college would work to meet the demand.
"Job growth in the cannabis industry is expected to really skyrocket in the coming years and we want to position our students to have those jobs," Wolfe said.