Study programs in marijuana and hemp are sprouting at colleges across the United States, as more and more states adopt pot-friendly legislation.
“My friends make good-natured jokes about getting a degree in weed,” said Grace DeNoya, one of the first students in a new four-year degree program in medicinal plant chemistry at Northern Michigan University. “I say, ‘No, it’s a serious degree, a chemistry degree first and foremost. It’s hard work. Organic chemistry is a bear.’”
Though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, 33 states allow medical marijuana, and 10 have passed legislation decriminalizing recreational pot, as well. Industry watchers predict more than 400,000 jobs in the field by 2022, and higher education has taken notice. Colleges across the country, including some in states where marijuana remains illegal, now offer programs in cannabis chemistry, public policy, horticulture, and more.
“We’re following the market,” said Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Morrisville, a college in rural central New York that’s launching a new minor in cannabis studies in its horticulture department this year.
The big question remains: What type of scientists will emerge from these programs to handle such powerful chemicals in a society adrift? —L.E.
A school-choice tax-credit program at the state level is spurring murmurs of another potential “sick out” in Kentucky this week. The state is considering legislation that would offer tax breaks to individuals for donations to private school scholarship funds. Similar to the debate over the federal proposal, supporters tout the importance of flexibility and choice, particularly for underserved families. Opponents claim the bill will drain resources from public education. For now, the proposed “sick out” is on hold, but Kentucky teachers have already shown their willingness to employ the tactic.
Last Thursday, hundreds of teachers called in sick, forcing the closure of numerous school districts, including two of the state’s largest. At issue was a bill that would dilute the power of the Kentucky Educator’s Association on the board of trustees for the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System. As of Monday, that bill stalled, its future uncertain. —L.E.
An Ohio judge ruled Thursday that a local school district may allow select teachers and staff to carry concealed weapons if they meet certain requirements. The Madison Local School District recommended the controversial policy in the wake of a 2016 shooting that injured two of its students. Several community members filed a lawsuit, citing the number of training hours as a major point of contention.
Judge Charles Pater of the Butler County Common Pleas Court affirmed that the policy’s required 34 hours of training was sufficient, in contrast to the 700-plus hours the lawsuit was seeking.
“Our primary concern has been and continues to be the safety of our students, and what works for our community may not work for others,” Madison Superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff told WXIX-TV in Cincinnati. “While this policy has received a substantial amount of attention, it is just one of many steps that has taken to ensure student safety.” —L.E.