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Cannabis excellence: LSSU launches new chemistry facility

SAULT STE MARIE — Lake Superior State University cut the ribbon on its new Cannabis Center of Excellence at the Crawford Hall of Science on Friday.

The dedicated 2,600-square-foot facility, which is equipped with over $2 million in Agilent Technologies instruments, is described by an LSSU press release as a “state-of-the-art facility aimed at a convergence of education and research across the sciences related to the rapidly-expanding cannabis industry.”

The focus of the facility is to train undergraduate students as “job-ready chemists, with hands-on, innovative experience using state-of-the-art instrumentation and industry protocols.”

LSSU Dean of the College of Science and the Environment Steve Johnson said the CCoE was created as a platform for students to be at the “forefront of the cannabis analytics industry.”

“The instrumentation available is rarely paralleled at other undergraduate institutions,” Johnson said. “The focus of the cannabis program is to provide our graduates with the analytical skills necessary to move successfully into the cannabis industry.”

Last February, LSSU announced the first program for undergraduate students in the U.S. focused completely on cannabis chemistry. It was launched in the fall.

The degree combines a mix of core-curriculum chemistry with cutting-edge cannabis courses such as Cannabis Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry.

The changes come as the state marijuana industry and associated jobs are expected to skyrocket.

Three months after the sale of adult-use marijuana became legal in December, Michigan has licensed 43 adult-use retailers and 11 grow operations, but that is expected to grow exponentially. The industry is likely to net nearly $1.5 billion in statewide business revenues according to a Nov. 14 MLive report.

Over 211,000 workers were directly employed by the cannabis industry in the U.S., according to a Leafly Cannabis Jobs Count in 2019.

Other schools are participating in training cannabis job hopefuls as well. In 2017, Northern Michigan University was the first public university in the U.S. to launch an undergraduate degree in medicinal plant chemistry. According to an Oct. 3 CNBC report, several other universities now offer cannabis courses including the Physiology of Cannabis at the University of California, Davis; Cannabis: Biology, Society and Industry at Cornell University; and Cannabis Law at Harvard Law School.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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