LISTEN: University of Connecticut offers the science and practice of growing cannabis

Apr 12, 2019

Cannabis is the hot new topic at a few universities and lecture halls across the country, with some even offering classes in hemp and marijuana. There’s the University of New Mexico, which is offering a 'Cannabis and Communications' course, and now the University of Connecticut is offering a course in the science and practice of growing cannabis.

[New ‘Cannabis and Communication’ course on offer at the University of New Mexico this spring]

The course is proving so popular that it is being held in the largest lecture hall on the University of Connecticut’s campus, with about 300 students enrolled and ready to "roll." NPR’s “All Things Considered” interviewed the instructor, Matthew DeBacco, and many of the students, including the one who delivers the hemp to the hall every day, Madison Blake, a junior horticulture major. There are classes in seed selection, lighting, irrigation, and nutrients.

The class includes live cannabis plants. However, since recreational marijuana isn’t yet legal in Connecticut, they’re of the hemp variety—high in CBD and low in THC. On the contrary, the lessons on hemp are directly transferable to marijuana, as stated by DeBacco. And of course, markets for marijuana are growing, making the class all the more relevant.

[University of Colorado study on marijuana and driving pays applicants to smoke their own stash]

Gerold Berkowitz, who helps teach the course, says that another goal of the course is to break down the stigma around cannabis and marijuana. "There's a certain culture associated with cannabis. I myself, am a Grateful Deadhead," he said. Berkowitz, who has been running controlled studies on hemp for the past three years, wants to see more academics getting into cannabis research. "There's lack of peer review. There's lack of scholarship. There's lack of sharing of information," he said.

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