Doane University plans to offer a three-course online program this fall on the cannabis industry, which produces hemp and marijuana.
Andrea Holmes, a Doane chemistry professor who will help teach the certificate program, said the industry is growing rapidly. There are jobs across the country for cultivators, technicians, scientists, geneticists, administrators, salespeople, marketers and advertisers, Holmes said Monday.
“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 that it is THC-free, meaning that the THC level is lower than .3%.
THC is the ingredient responsible for the “high” experienced when cannabis is consumed. Her business sells the refined extract to companies that produce tablets, lotions and liquids used for pain relief and other purposes.
The Doane program will cover the science of cannabis, health and wellness aspects of it, cultivation and processing, regulations, and professions in the industry.
In May, Nebraska passed a hemp law under which cannabis with a THC level of less than .3% is legal. Hemp is sometimes called a “cousin” of marijuana and is used in clothing, medications and other items.
Many states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and some have legalized it for recreational purposes as well. In limited cases, Iowa allows the use of cannabidiol, a component of cannabis, for medical purposes.
Doane, a private university based in Crete, Nebraska, intends to start the program in October or November, Holmes said. Those who complete the program will receive a certificate.
Holmes, an organic chemist who has a doctorate from New York University, said she will be responsible for certifying those who complete the program. They will use the certification to show that they have finished the program and to land jobs in the cannabis industry. Holmes has been a professor at Doane since 2005.
The first course, provided over two weeks, will cost $149. The second, she said, given over three weeks, will cost $179. The third, over four weeks, will cost $199. Some of the information will be available for free online, she said, but the payments are necessary to get all of the content and to acquire the certificate.
Holmes said Doane will offer a rare, comprehensive program. A Doane press release said the university will be the first in the state to offer it. A spokesman for Doane said Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Vermont offer somewhat similar programs.
Holmes said she seeks professionalism in the industry. That includes producing clean, tested products, she said.
State Sen. Mike Groene, chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Education Committee, said it sounds like Doane is offering a useful program. “Right now, they can get a job in that in an awful lot of states,” he said.
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 that customers know what they’re getting, said Groene, of North Platte.
Holmes said she will be one of several people at a half-day cannabis-related forum in Pilger, Nebraska, starting at 11 a.m. Friday. The forum will be at the Cooper Family Community Center at 100 W. Second St. She said farmers have shown interest in the state’s new hemp law.
“I can tell you what — the train has left and people are already on it (the train) in Nebraska,” she said.
Holmes said she believes that some people, in pain or with mental health conditions, for example, could benefit from marijuana.
She said she has never used pot. “I don’t need it,” she said. “I have a wonderful life.”
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