Cannabis Course Offered This Spring

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UConn’s “Horticulture of Cannabis: From Seed to Harvest” course will be making a comeback. The course will be offered in the Spring 2020 academic year.  Photo by     Yash Lucid     from     Pexels

UConn’s “Horticulture of Cannabis: From Seed to Harvest” course will be making a comeback. The course will be offered in the Spring 2020 academic year. Photo by Yash Lucid from Pexels

“Horticulture of Cannabis: From Seed to Harvest” will be offered again this spring by Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems professors Gerald “Gerry” Berkowitz and Matthew DeBacco. 

The course is meant to be an introduction to the field of the legal cultivation and research of cannabis, and last year became the first college course of its kind in the nation, according to the Connecticut Post. It will include guest lecturers who will introduce topics such as cannabis genetics, seed selection, soil, and tissue testing, plant hormones and lab testing of harvests, according to UConn Today.  

The course number is SPSS 3995, section 1, with 400 seats. There are no prerequisites to enroll in the course and it is open to all UConn students, regardless of major, according to UConn Today.  

Professor Berkowitz said he is interested in spreading knowledge of cannabis horticulture in anticipation of a booming industry of medical and recreational marijuana, he said. 

“Our students see career opportunities and want to gain experience,” Berkowitz said. “Businesses need highly-trained scientists to support the growth of this industry, and they are seeking talented graduates to enter this workforce.” 

A Wall Street cannabis analyst predicted that sales in the U.S. will rise to $80 billion by 2030, thus there will need to be enough people working in the field to be able to support this budding industry.

The cannabis that will be investigated and grown in this class is hemp, which is high in the non-psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol), but has low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that produces a high, according to Cannabis Science and Technology (cannabissciencetech.com). This is one of the types of cannabis that can be used as medical marijuana, which has been legal in Connecticut since 2012, according to the New York Times.

Medical marijuana is a growing field of research, but it has been shown to have some palliative effect on epilepsy, chemotherapy side effects, discomforts of HIV/AIDS, PTSD and Crohn’s Disease, all of which are approvable reasons for using medical marijuana in CT, according to the Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection

Berkowitz laments that because of the stigma around the plant, there has been a lack of research that could lead to better growing practices. 

“When you read about best practices for cannabis horticulture, you discover that the information provided isn’t substantiated by refereed science or subjected to rigorous review,” Berkowitz said. “That’s a problem.” 

With this course, Berkowitz and DeBacco hope to further research in legal cannabis and increase student knowledge of and involvement in the topic. 

Anyone interested in learning more can contact Gerald Berkowitz at gerald.berkowitz@uconn.edu.  


Keely Greiner is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at keely.greiner@uconn.edu

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