Medical cannabis became legal in Illinois in 2015, and Southern Illinois University is now taking steps to start a study and research program about marijuana and hemp.
The university announced that the cannabis and industrial hemp program will be offered at the Carbondale campus of the school. The announcement stated that the program on offer will make it possible for farmers and students to earn a certificate in medical cannabis or hemp.
The interim dean of agricultural sciences, Karen Midden, revealed that the program was the result of requests from current and prospective students as well as farmers in the community.
The cannabis and industrial hemp program will be interdisciplinary and the content studied will be taken from plant biology, chemistry, business, engineering and agriculture. Those who complete the program will be ready to work in these emerging industries.
Hemp is known to provide a very tough natural fiber whose uses are diverse across a variety of industries including the garment industry.
Medical cannabis can be helpful to patients suffering from different conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy and so many others.
The university has already secured permission from the DEA to grow hemp and plans are in advanced stages to start growing the plant on a 5-acre piece of land. Small lots will be grown with each lot geared at answering a key research question about hemp, such as what the possible environmental impacts of the plant may be and what its ideal growing conditions are.
The students who enroll for the program will therefore have a firsthand experience of the different processes associated with growing and processing hemp into different products.
The cannabis industry in the state is also opening up more as time goes by. Initially, medical cannabis was only available to patients who had medical records to prove that they were suffering from one of the dozen or so qualifying conditions listed in the law that legalized medical cannabis.
However, the Governor of the state signed a law in August adding pain to the qualifying conditions for which one can get medicinal marijuana. Governor Bruce Rauner also lifted the existing ban on the cultivation of hemp.
These developments show that the cannabis and hemp sectors are on a forward march, so the new program offered by Southern Illinois University is a timely addition to the efforts of developing skilled people who can serve in these industries.
What is now left is to see how many people will take advantage of this unique opportunity to acquire training in the different aspects connected to hemp and medicinal marijuana. The Green Organic Dutchman (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) and TransCanna certainly know what a huge help a skilled labor force can be when an industry is just emerging.
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