Students at the University of Connecticut will soon have the opportunity to learn the science behind growing marijuana. In one of the first courses of its kind in the country, UConn will offer a class this semester called “Horticulture of Cannabis: From Seed to Harvest”
Plant science professor Gerry Berkowitz says students are interested in academic training related to the cannabis industry, and employers need workers. He says that he took a group of his students to visit a medical marijuana grow-facility in Connecticut.
“One of the biggest things that we learned was that this CEO and owners of the facility were saying, ‘We hire our head growers from the basement,” Berkowitz said. “‘That’s where we get people who grow marijuana. Is people who were growing it in their basements.’”
Grow-facilities are seeking to hire trained horticulturalists Berkowitz said. He added, the broader industry also offers employment opportunities for cell biologists, chemists and more.
“There’s jobs,” Berkowitz said. “And since the federal government hasn’t provided funding and since it’s been sort of a dark room, there’s so much scholarship that needs to happen. So the industry is just as interested in forming ties with universities as the students are in working.”
Response to the UConn course offering has been overwhelming - with 400 students enrolled in the first class. Connecticut currently permits medical marijuana dispensaries. Ten states, Washington, DC and Canada have legalized recreational marijuana, and Connecticut Governor-elect Ned Lamont has said he’d like to explore doing the same during his first year in office.
This report comes from the New England News Collaborative: Eight public media companies, including Rhode Island Public Radio, coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.