CRETE, Neb. (AP) — A private university in Nebraska, a state which bars recreational and medicinal marijuana, plans to offer an online program this fall that will cover the science, cultivation, processing and regulation of marijuana and hemp.
Doane University in Crete will offer the three-course program, which will be taught in part by chemistry professor Andrea Holmes. She told the Omaha World-Herald that the industry is growing rapidly, citing jobs across the country for cultivators, technicians, scientists, geneticists, administrators, salespeople, marketers and advertisers.
Nebraska lawmakers cleared the way this past spring for a limited number of farmers to grow hemp. Hemp is a low-THC version of the cannabis plant. THC is the compound that gives marijuana its high.
"Cannabis has two sides — the marijuana side and the hemp side," said Holmes, co-founder of a Denver business that removes the oil from hemp. Holmes' business, Precision Plant Molecules, refines the oil so its THC level is lower than 0.3%. The refined extract is sold to companies that produce tablets, lotions and liquids used for pain relief and other purposes.
Holmes, who's been a Doane professor since 2005, said she will be responsible for certifying those who complete the program. A Doane news release said the university will be the first in the state to offer it. Colorado State University and the University of Denver are among several colleges across the country that offer courses for people interested in the cannabis industry.
State Sen. Mike Groene, chairman of the Nebraska Legislature's Education Committee, said it sounds like Doane is offering a useful program. He described Colorado, where marijuana is legal medically and recreationally, as "the wild west." Professionals are needed there and elsewhere to test the products so customers know what they're getting, he said.
Organizers have been conducting a petition drive to put a medical marijuana measure on a Nebraska ballot next year.