As New York Plans To Legalize Marijuana, One State University Introduces Classes On How To Grow It

A marijuana cultivator at a growing facility
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

College students in the state of New York can’t legally smoke marijuana yet, but they could learn how to grow it.

As the state moves toward legalizing marijuana, one state university has started to offer classes on how to grow and sell marijuana legally. The State University of New York at Morrisville is introducing a minor in the cannabis industry, training those who will be growing legal marijuana, the New York Post noted.

The courses on marijuana are not just a way to help students get high, the report noted. SUNY Morrisville has a reputation for its strong horticulture programs, and school administrators wanted to craft a program that would build on that expertise while creating future leaders of the burgeoning legal marijuana industry.

“They want students who went for horticulture or similar environment majors because they understand plant growth,” Howard Rice, an associate at SUNY Morrisville, told WSYR-TV. “They’re not just hiring the guy who was growing in his basement for 10 years. They want the people who understand science behind it.”

The new program is being introduced as New York is taking steps toward legalizing recreational marijuana. This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan that would create a state Office of Cannabis Management, the first of its kind in the nation, to oversee all aspects of marijuana cultivation, production, distribution, and sales. A proposed bill would make all recreational marijuana legal for those over the age of 21, and is projected to bring in $300 million of tax revenue in its first three years, Rolling Stone reported.

If passed, New York would follow other states like Washington, Colorado, and California that have legalized marijuana and seen an economic boost because of it.

In his announcement, Cuomo said it would not only be a boost to the state’s economy, but help to correct decades of drug enforcement that focused heavily on neighborhoods with high minority populations.

“Let’s stop the disproportionate impact on communities of color,” Cuomo said in announcing the proposal this week. “Let’s create an industry that empowers the poor communities that paid the price and not the rich corporations that come in to make a profit.”

While marijuana legalization could still be a ways off in New York, students who enroll in the cannabis industry minor at SUNY Morrisville will learn using hemp plants, which come from the same family as the marijuana plant, but lack the compounds that get people high when they smoke it.