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This Michigan College Is Offering a Degree in Weed

Northern Michigan University is the first accredited college offering a four-year degree program all about the science—and the business—of marijuana.

ByDrew Schwartzillustrated byJacqueline Lin

These days, with more states becoming weed-friendly, you don't have to be some pothead hanging out in a basement to learn all about growing and selling cannabis. At Northern Michigan University (NMU), you can actually major in it, the Detroit Free Press reports.

This semester, NMU is offering the country's first four-year degree in weed, schooling students in everything from chemistry and biology to marketing and finance. By the time the first batch of pot majors graduate, they'll know how to grow the plant, extract its most valuable compounds, and, ideally, make money off it.

According to the Free Press, the 12 students currently enrolled in the major won't actually get to handle the plant, seeing as recreational use isn't legal in Michigan. Instead, those majoring in "medicinal plant chemistry" will study other plants—like mint or ginseng—to better understand their medicinal properties.

"When they hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who say, 'Wow, cool dude. You're going to get a degree growing marijuana,'" Alex Roth, a sophomore in NMU's program, told the Free Press. "But it's not an easy degree at all."

After graduation, students with the degree could potentially become master growers, budtenders, or even marijuana critics in an industry that just continues to grow. Legal pot has blossomed into a $1 billion operation in Colorado, Nevada's legal weed sales are on track to hit $30 million, and California will officially enter the recreational market next year. According to NMU associate chemistry professor Brandon Canfield, there are already a host of growers, dispensaries, and other pot-related businesses looking to bring the program's students on as interns.

NMU isn't the first school to offer classes on the science and the business of weed—Harvard, Ohio State, and places like Cannabis College and THC University offer related courses and certificates. It is, however, the first that offers a degree devoted to the drug, a major that's probably easier to explain to your family at Thanksgiving than admitting you're pursuing one in memes.

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Related: How to Treat Weed Dealers, According to a Weed Dealer