Local university creates cannabis-based degree program

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WL NE) — Nearly a decade ago, cannabis became legal for public consumption in Colorado. Since then, 19 states have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Rhode Island gets the green light to sell on Dec. 1.

In response to the rapidly growing cannabis industry, Johnson and Wales University has initiated a bachelor’s degree program in cannabis entrepreneurship.

This is a photo of a tomato plant. (WLNE)

Dr. Michael Budziszek, professor of Cannabis Cultivation at Johnson and Wales University, said the program is truly unique

He said, “We’re the only one. We will teach you how to cultivate, extract and the selling of the entire industry.”

A small pine tree looking plant is seen under a growing light. (WLNE)

This unique program features a deep dive into cannabis from seed to flower. Students explore plant cloning at the cellular level and biochemistry for THC/CBD extraction. There is a hitch.

Federal mandates restrict the presence of cannabis plants on campus. They are in the application process to have the plants on hand to study, but it’s taking time. In the meantime, the program uses a cannabis cousin — tomato plants.

A plant leaf is seen under a microscope. (WLNE)

Dr. Magnus Thorsson, professor of entrepreneurship and economics at Johnson and Wales University, explained the business side of the program: “The program is modeled after the food and beverage program where students learn about the food and beverage and running the business.”

The other half of the degree program is all about the business. It focuses on marketing, human resource management, accounting, and financial management.

Benjamin Little is seen looking at a leaf using a microscope. (WLNE)

Thorsson sums it up, saying, “What we’re trying to do is create good craftsmen that are comfortable with the botanicals but are also comfortable with the profit and loss statement and branding.”

The program is new but growing fast with roughly 100 students in it now. There is a palpable enthusiasm about being part of this growing industry.

A tomato plant is seen under a growing light. (WLNE)

Benjamin Little, a cannabis entrepreneurship student, said, “If you can bust into an industry that’s worth billions of dollars and you can be a part of that and take a slice of that industry, the sky’s the limit in what you can bring home.”

Categories: News, Rhode Island, Scientifically Speaking